You may have heard me speak of the benefits of eliminating sugar and switching to natural substitutes like stevia. Well, the food/chemical/pharmaceutical industry desires to make a quick buck at your expense. Recently released Truvia claims to be a natural sweetener from stevia but it warrants a closer look.

Not so Truvia
Truvia is actually made mostly of erythritol, a sugar alcohol derived from genetically modified corn. Only 5% of the compound is actually derived from the stevia plant. By creating a new chemical compound, the makers are able to patent the product. Stevia, on the other hand, is a natural herb and therefore not patentable.

Despite the fact that erythritol is made from corn, and most corn is GMO, the Truvia website provides the strangest dance of denial to make them seem they are looking out for your best interest. They seem to feel that since it’s just derived from corn, then processed like crazy, that the origin of the corn has no bearing on the end product.  Here’s what the website says, which sure sounds to me like GMO corn is used:

Does Truvía® natural sweetener contain GMO? Is it genetically modified? 

No. Truvía® natural sweetener is not GMO, and does not contain any genetically modified ingredients. There are no known varieties of genetically modified stevia available anywhere in the world. The carrier for the intensely sweet stevia leaf extract is called erythritol. The erythritol used in Truvía® natural sweetener is produced by a yeast organism that is found in nature. The yeast ferments or digests dextrose and other nutrients. In other words, dextrose is the food for the yeast – much like corn may be food for a cow that produces meat or milk. The dextrose used as the feedstock for the yeast is a simple sugar that is derived from the starch component of U.S.-grown corn. Although genetically enhanced corn and non-transgenic corn are grown in the U.S. today, erythritol is not derived from corn and dextrose feedstock (just as milk is not derived from cattle feed); it is derived from the yeast organism. Erythritol is not genetically modified, and does not contain any genetically modified proteins.

Do you use GMO corn to produce the erythritol used in Truvía® natural sweetener?

The erythritol used in Truvía® natural sweetener is produced by a yeast organism that is found in nature. The yeast “ferments” or “digests” dextrose and other nutrients. Dextrose is the food for the yeast – much like corn may be food for a cow that produces meat or milk. The dextrose is derived from the starch component of U.S.-grown corn. Both GM corn and non-GM corn are grown in the U.S. today. Cargill does not segregate the corn used to manufacture the dextrose used in the erythritol process.

Why is Truvía® natural sweetener non-GMO if you use GMO corn? 

Erythritol is not made from corn or dextrose (just as milk is not made from cattle feed); erythritol is made from a yeast organism that eats the dextrose for food. Erythritol itself is not derived from a genetically modified source, and does not contain any genetically modified proteins.

So, while there are claiming non-GMO status because they are using the yeast grown on corn and not using the corn itself, “just as milk is not made of cattle feed”, their argument is laughable. No one can claim grass-fed beef is non-GMO if they are fed GMO feed.

Here’s how Truvia is made

Truvia contains 3 ingredients: Erythritol, Rebiana, and natural flavors.

Erythritol

Erythritol made from yeast grown on GMO corn has genetically modified origins. This ingredient makes up 95-99% of the “natural sweetener.” Straight from the Cargill website, here’s how erythritol is made:

Erythritol is the first polyol to be manufactured on a commercial scale by a fermentation process. The starting material is a simple sugar-rich substrate which is fermented by a yeast like fungus to yield erythritol.

The product is then crystallized to 99.5 percent purity from the filtered and concentrated fermentation broth.

erythritol

Rebiana

Rebiana (chemical name rebaudioside A)  makes up less than 1% of the little packet. Rebiana (also called Reb-A) is a substance that is derived from the stevia leaf, but is not actually stevia. Although Truvia’s website says that Rebiana is retrieved from the stevia leaf by soaking it in water, the patent held by Coca Cola divulges that it actually takes 40 steps (!!!) to extract the desired molecule, steps that include the use of yummy stuff like acetone, methanol, ethanol, acetonitrile, and isopropanol.

Natural Flavoring

If you’ve ever researched any dietary additives, you know that the term “natural flavoring” is so broad as to be without definition. Even MSG can be considered “natural” according to some, since it originates, far far back in the process, from yeast. Other types of natural additives are repugnant, so they hide the real origins behind that much-abused word, natural. So, really, this third ingredient could be anything.