Equal® has sweetened up many moments in your life. Now Equal® brings you great sweet taste with Equal® Naturals to sweeten up your food and drinks.
Depending upon the ingredient, our suppliers may use food grade FDA-approved aids 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 Equal® Naturals 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 Equal® Naturals 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 more than 200 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.
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 some 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.