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When it comes to food, consumers have different ideas about what is natural.
This page explains our natural standard so that you can be a more informed consumer.
We believe that an ingredient is natural if it exists in nature without human interference and has been extracted from plant material unchanged or derived from plant material through biological processes. We do not believe that the amount of processing that an ingredient undergoes changes whether an ingredient may be called natural.
Depending upon the ingredient, our suppliers may use chemicals to process the ingredient, but none of these processing aids remain in the final ingredient at detectable levels. Our suppliers sometimes use proteins called enzymes or yeast to convert plant material into ingredients through biological processes. These biological processes occur in nature but they may not be identical to the way in which a particular ingredient is created in nature.We purchase all of our ingredients from suppliers. As part of our supplier selection process, we investigate how the ingredients are produced to ensure that the ingredient meets our natural standard. We use information provided by our suppliers and general industry information.All of the ingredients in Pure Via are processed to assure consistency of taste, safety and stability. Raw stevia cannot be sold as a sweetener in the United States because all of the chemical compounds in crude stevia extracts have not been shown to be safe for human consumption. We sweeten Pure Via with a high purity extract of the stevia leaf called Reb A because scientific studies support the safety of the well-defined sweetening compound. In addition, the sweet extract does not have the strong bitter aftertaste of raw stevia and is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. A small amount of the sweet extract delivers the sweetness of a much larger volume of sugar without all the calories. We blend this extract with other natural ingredients to provide volume and further improve taste.The following sections provide further detail on how the ingredients we call natural meet our natural standard.
Dextrose (glucose) is a simple sugar found in plants. Our Non-GMO dextrose is produced from starch derived corn used to make our Non-GMO dextrose has not been genetically modified through bioengineering.
Our dextrose is produced from corn starch which is derived from corn. Corn starch is produced through a series of grinding and separation processes that extract starch from corn without changing the chemical structure of the starch. Kernels of corn are first steeped in water and then ground. Sulfur dioxide is added to the water during the steeping process to soften the kernels and kill bacteria. The sulfur dioxide is removed during the remainder of the dextrose manufacturing process. The ground corn slurry is pumped into cyclone separators where the low density corn germ is removed. The slurry leaves the cyclone separators and is again ground after which corn fiber is removed through the use of screens. The remaining mixture is then piped to centrifuges which separate the starch from gluten. The starch is subsequently washed with additional water to produce the final corn starch and water mixture for further processing into dextrose. An enzymatic hydrolysis process is then used to convert the corn starch into dextrose. The corn starch slurry is treated with a combination of alpha-amylase and glucoamylase. These two enzymes are harvested from bacterial and fungal microorganisms. A food grade acid is used to regulate the pH level in order to optimize the enzymatic hydrolysis process. This processing aid, as well as enzymes and residual corn starch components are removed by a series of filtration and ion exchange process steps. The dextrose is then crystallized without the use of solvents.
Reb A (rebaudioside A) is a natural sweetener extracted from leaves of the stevia plant. It is 200 to 300 times sweeter than ordinary sugar and is low in calories. This sweetener is just one of several sweeteners found in stevia leaves which are called steviol glycosides. Some of the major glycosides contained in the leaf are stevioside, rebaudiosides A, B, C, D, E, F and dulcosides A, rubusoside, and steviolbioside. Although much sweeter than ordinary sugar, most of these natural sweeteners do not taste like sugar and often have an aftertaste. Many consumers who seek sugar-like taste would not find crude stevia extracts palatable.
We use 99% pure Reb A for taste and safety reasons. Reb A is one of the least bitter of the glycosides and, when blended properly, delivers a sugar-like taste. Unlike crude stevia extracts, high purity Reb A is a well-defined compound that has been studied extensively and has been found to be safe for human consumption.
The glycosides found in the stevia leaf are similar to one another. As a result, a multistep process is required to extract and separate the Reb A from the other glycosides and from other compounds in the stevia leaf. The following description summarizes the steps involved in extracting Reb A from the stevia leaf and purifying the extract.
Stevia leaves are cleaned, dried and milled. This dry stevia leaf powder is then steeped in hot water. The liquid containing the crude stevia extract is then first filtered and passed through special resins onto which the glycosides adhere. The resin is then washed with a solution of water and ethanol (alcohol) to remove the purified glycosides. This solution is then processed to remove any salt or minerals and then passed through an activated carbon filter to remove any odor or color compounds. The resulting liquid is concentrated, filtered and dried. The dry powder is then dissolved in a solution of water and ethanol which is then passed through a series of crystallizers where pressure and temperature are precisely applied. The Reb A crystallizes and drops out of the solution and is separated from other glycosides. The crystallized Reb A is then washed, concentrated and then further filtered to produce 99% pure Reb A. Reb A is not chemically changed by the extraction and purification process.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates which flavorings may be labeled as being a “natural flavor”. The term “natural flavor” means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. 21 CFR 101.22(a)(3)