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PureVia Stevia Review

Updated Review Date: 06/19/2017
Original Review Date: 04/25/2011

         ***This is the most up-to-date PureVia review and information currently available on the internet. Beware of old or undated reviews of older versions of this product as they will be quite inaccurate.***
         If you're a diabetic or like the idea of a more natural alternative to the other sugar substitutes on the market then PureVia may be of interest to you. PureVia is a product from Whole Earth Sweetener Company, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of privately held Merisant Co. This sweetener uses Rebaudioside-A (called Reb-A, which is a very sweet steviol glycoside extracted from Stevia leaves) as the main sweetening agent. The Reb-A is mixed with non-GMO dextrose as a bulking agent so the product has a more usable consistency and volume. Some might be wary of dextrose since it's a simple-sugar, especially diabetics, but the amount used per packet is well within the margins of a "free food" in the diabetic food exchange system. Since PureVia is a USFDA approved Stevia-based sweetener, it's also recommended by the American Diabetes Association as a sugar alternative.
         PureVia has recently been reformulated for the second time since its introduction to the market; the first time to remove erythritol and isomaltulose and replace it with regular dextrose to make the product both less expensive to produce and cheaper for consumers, and the second time to remove cellulose powder and change over from GMO dextrose to non-GMO dextrose. Yes that's right PureVia uses now only non-GMO dextrose derived from non-GMO cassava root and/or non-GMO corn. The product has improved quite a bit over the years as a result of both general product-improvement initiatives and some consumer litigation on the "naturalness" of the product. In regard to the litigation, the company shaped up by improving the product's quality of manufacture and ingredients - something that doesn't happen very often.
         PureVia is also now more transparent about their process of extraction and the supply chain of ingredients, which is described in fairly good detail on their website (link opens a new window to their website). Of the rebaudioside-A extraction methods that could be used, PureVia uses the water, ethyl alcohol, filtration and pressurization process of extraction, which is one of the best methods available from a health perspective - keep in mind that the ethyl alcohol used, which is completely removed during the process, is the type of alcohol found in beer or liquor that you can drink, and shouldn't be confused with methyl alcohol which is the type you can't drink. Some manufacturers (the bulk suppliers of rebaudioside-A to companies for use in products) do in fact use methyl alcohol instead of ethyl alcohol in the extraction process, but PureVia states that the company only uses rebaudioside-A extracted with the non-toxic food-grade ethyl alcohol. So, you don't have to worry about any truly disturbing chemicals used to obtain the stevia extract that's in the product. The rebaudioside-A in PureVia has a 99% purity level with the remaining 1% being remnants of other steviol glycosides and/or benign compounds from the stevia leaf.
         PureVia is currently available at Amazon in boxes of 40, 80, 400, 800 and 1000 packets. Like other popular sweeteners, each packet has the sweetness of 2 teaspoons of regular sugar. Just be sure to buy the updated version of the product that says Non-GMO on the box, as the previous iteration of PureVia is still available in market channels. Here are some examples of the newest version as well as some older versions of PureVia available.
         If this is the first time you've heard about Stevia extract and you'd like to know more about it, you can read an informative article I posted regarding the background, safety and benefits of Stevia extract.
         And now on to the details of the review...

Nutrition Information for PureVia Stevia

Each 1 gram packet of PureVia has:

Calories: 4 (dietetically zero unless more than 4.75 packets are consumed at once)
Sodium: 0mg
Sugars: Less than 1g (from dextrose)
Carbohydrates: Less than 1g

PureVia Stevia Ingredients

Non-GMO Dextrose, Reb A (a trade name for rebaudioside-A, one of the isolated "sweet" steviol glycosides of Stevia extract), Natural Flavors.

The Scorecard for PureVia Stevia

Based on the four point rating system, which allows a maximum of one point for each category, here are the results for PureVia:

Taste: The three taste testers and I tried PureVia in unsweetened Kool-Aid (Black Cherry, Fruit Punch and Grape), black tea, green tea and coffee. It has a very good and powerful sweet taste, but I noticed a very slight bitter-then-sweet aftertaste in coffee but not in any of the teas. The other three taste testers only had a sweet aftertaste in the coffee and teas. The bitter-then-sweet aftertaste is only bitter for a few seconds or less then it turns into a sweet long-lasting aftertaste. The aftertaste in the Black Cherry and Fruit Punch cold Kool-Aid drinks was ever so slight for two of the taste testers who both perceived the aftertaste as simultaneously slightly bitter but mostly sweet (this didn't happen with the Grape Kool-Aid for them). Myself and one other taste tester could not detect anything but a sweet aftertaste in any of the Kool-Aid mixes. Taking the slightly simultaneous bitter and sweet aftertaste into account when mixed with certain products, and the bitter-then-sweet aftertaste I had with coffee, there is a .25 point deduction. Of note though, the overall taste has improved quite a bit since the first iteration of PureVia and the bitter-then-sweet aftertaste is much less apparent than it used to be. The newest version of PureVia is also the best tasting stevia-based sweetener I have tried to date. (+.75)

Packaging Waste: The exterior box for PureVia is made from 100% recycled paper fiber and is printed with environmentally friendly soy/vegetable oil based inks. The interior packets are recycleable paper fiber based too, so PureVia gets an easy top score here. (+1)

Value: Although PureVia does cost more per unit than sugar, its average price is still quite reasonable considering the manufacturing process, how little you need to use, the health benefit for those that need a sugar free diet, and the decline in production cost of PureVia. I have been able to consistently find it cheaper than most of its Stevia based competitors. (+1)

Health Factor: Nothing unusual in the ingredients but for those that like to look at ingredients I'm sure you noticed the "natural flavors" listed in PureVia. Even though the FDA does have a "loose" regulation in the "Code of Federal Regulations Title 21" stipulating what should and should not be listed as a natural flavor, I still like to know exactly what ingredients are in sweetener products because sweeteners are such a key ingredient in sugar free drink products. I do have an open email to Whole Earth Sweetener Co. asking about the exact natural flavors and will update this review when or if I find out what they are - be advised though, if I have to sign a non-disclosure agreement I will only be able to post if they are quality ingredients; I will not be able to list what they actually are. The non-GMO dextrose adds a dietetically insignificant amount of sugar and is considered a "free" food in the food exchange system unless you consume more than 4.75 packets all at the same time. Lastly, even though by federal regulation rebaudioside-A fit for human consumption must be at least 95% pure, the purity level of the rebaudioside-A found in PureVia is 99%, putting it well above the safety margin. (+ 1, tentatively)

Overall Rating: 3.75 out of 4. A good score for a good tasting product with two minor faults - the listing of natural flavors with no elaboration and the hardly detectable bitter-then sweet aftertaste. PureVia is a huge improvement over other Stevia extract based products I've tried in the past and I think it's new formula is much better tasting than the original formula. If PureVia can clarify what the natural flavors are in the ingredients, or at least let me know so I can convey to readers whether or not they are quality natural flavors, this would be a another step in the right direction. Regardless, it's definitely worth a try as a sugar substitute considering that it does taste very good in a variety of applications and uses one of the best extraction processes.

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