Barry Callebaut said its no sugar-added chocolate is based on a sweetener solution (1/1 replacement of sugar) and the Reb A extract from the Stevia plant (Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni).
Stevia, a South American plant in the sunflower family, has attracted massive interest in the last two years following FDA GRAS (generally recognised as safe) of high purity Reb A as a sweetener in the US in late 2008.
Product developer at the industrial chocolate supplier, Marijke De Brouwer, told ConfectioneryNews.com that the chocolate uses a solution incorporating Reb A coupled with a blend of dietary fibres and polyols that allows up to 90 per cent sugar reduction in a range of finished chocolate products.
“While sucrose is replaced 100 per cent by the Reb A extract, the labelling on the finished products will have to declare 90 per cent sugar reduction due to the presences of sugars in the fibres and polyol ingredients used,” she said.
Challenges around stability, texture and taste involving the replacement of sugar with stevia in chocolate were overcome through the selection of the correct combination of dietary fibres and limiting the combination of polyols such as mannitol to a maximum of 10 per cent in the finished product, added De Brouwer.
She would not disclose Barry Callebaut's Reb A extract supplier, citing confidentiality reasons, but argues that the new stevia-based chocolate, which can be used in pralines, tablets and bars, differs from others on the market in that it does not cause a laxative effect and that this is its stand out quality.
Swiss confectionery maker, Villars, has released a stevia-based chocolate tablet product and Japanese companies have been manufacturing chocolate products containing the sweetener for many years.
De Brouwer said that the US and Asian markets will be the initial target for the finished chocolate product from Cavalier, and then Europe, pending the regulatory developments around the use of stevia extracts in food and drink products in the bloc.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a positive safety opinion on all steviol glycosides extracts with a high purity, and approval is expected from the European Commission in the first half of 2011.
Barry Callebaut states that for the US market, a chocolate product using its sweetener solution, can be labelled as 'No Sugar Added Dark Chocolate' or simply 'Dark Chocolate'.