SWEET - BUT DEADLY? Artificial sweetener doubles as an insecticide
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/5/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Truvia, an artificial sweetener found in diet sodas, can kill flies - but is said to be harmless to humans. How much are we willing to take this bit of advice, which is supported by the producers of Diet Soda? American soft drink institution Coca-Cola uses Truvia as a sugar substitute.
While erythritol kills flies, most intriguingly -- the flies preferred erythritol over sugar.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Erythritol, the main component of Truvia, is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that's present in small amounts in many fruits. The chemical has been tested in humans at high doses and was found safe to consume. It's considered a safe food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and it has been since 2001. Truvia has also been approved as a food additive in many other countries.
In an examination of the effects of erythritol on the longevity of fruit flies, Drexel University researchers discovered that it was toxic when ingested by the flies as compared to similar concentrations of nutritive sugar controls, like sucrose and syrup, and other artificial sweeteners.
Flies that had been exposed to erythritol lived for about six days, compared to their normal 45 to 60 day life expectancy.
Most intriguingly -- the flies preferred erythritol over sugar.
"Indeed what we found is that the main component of Truvia®, the sugar erythritol, appears to have pretty potent insecticidal activity in our flies," Daniel Marenda said.
They found that the toxic effect did not come from stevia plant extract, which is present in both Truvia® and the non-nutritive sweetener PureVia®. PureVia® was included in their experiments and had no toxic effect on the flies.
"We are not going to see the planet sprayed with erythritol and the chances for widespread crop application are slim," O'Donnell said. "But on a small scale, in places where insects will come to a bait, consume it and die, this could be huge."
Above all else, researchers are pursuing a patent on erythritol as an insecticide and are continuing to study its effectiveness.
"Our results demonstrate, for the first time, that erythritol may be used as a novel, environmentally sustainable and human safe approach for insect pest control," researchers wrote in their study.
As Sir Laurence Olivier once intoned in "Marathon Man," "...is it safe?" The answer? Probably.
Nutrition blogger Doub Robb is not convinced that the dose makes the poison. He says, "[If] I had to choose a calorie-free sweetener, I would choose stevia over Truvia; I would also advise all potential parents [i.e. pregnant women] to follow my lead."
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