BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — The International Stevia Council, a new global trade association, will represent the interests of companies that process, manufacture and/or market stevia-based sweetener products. The council will focus on safety, quality and stakeholder education.

The 11 founding members are Cargill, Corn Products International, GLG Life Tech Corp., Granular, Morita Kagaku Kogyo, PureCircle Ltd., Sunwin, Sweet Green Fields, SweetLeaf Sweeteners, Verdure Sciences Europe and the Whole Earth Sweetener Co. The members plan to establish and participate in an industry proficiency testing program to ensure accurate analytical methods for measuring the purity of stevia extracts.

Membership is open to any company engaged in the processing and/or manufacturing of stevia products with a purity level in accordance with the Joint F.A.O./WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (J.E.C.F.A.) specifications. The council is based in Brussels and has a U.S. office in Washington.

“All of the founding members share a common vision to promote naturally-sourced stevia extracts as a way to improve the diets and health of people globally by addressing sugars and calories in food,” said Maria Teresa Scardigli, executive director.

Carl Horn, president of the organization’s board of directors, said, “The founding members of the International Stevia Council are extremely pleased to have agreed on the formation of this global platform representing the voice of the stevia industry worldwide. The industry will now be able to speak with a unified voice on many important issues related to stevia to government authorities, health care professionals, consumers and the media.”