- According to Cargill, the European Food Safety Association, and a bunch of independent researchers¹²³, Truvia, Coca-Cola’s calorie-free sugar substitute is safe for human consumption.
- According to researchers at Drexel University, Truvia is an excellent insecticide.
Wait a second. How can Truvia be safe for me to eat and yet it kills fruit flies like Dexter Morgan on crystal meth???
According to study authors Sean O’Donnell and Daniel Marenda, “during an examination of the effects of commonly used non-nutritive sweeteners on the longevity of Drosophila melanogaster (aka the Fruit Fly), they discovered that erythritol, the main component of the sweetener Truvia, was toxic when ingested by fruit flies as compared to similar concentrations of nutritive sugar controls (sucrose, corn syrup) and other non-nutritive sweeteners.”
- In their study, they found that fruit flies raised in tubes containing Truvia (see above), lived for an average of 5.8 days.
- The average fruit fly lives 45 to 60 days.
They also found that Truvia-fed flies had difficulty in climbing up a small vial, indicating impaired motor function.
The problem, the team discovered, lies in an ingredient present in Truvia but not in the other six sweeteners: erythritol, a commonly used food additive approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
This is the same erythritol that has been found to be safe for rats, dogs, humans, etc in previous studies referenced by the fine people at Coca-Cola and Cargill.
What does all this science this mean???
- If you’re a fly, this is bad news.
- If you’re a human who hates fruit flies buzzing around the bananas on your kitchen counter, it’s good news. According to the science, we now have evidence that erythritol baits could be used as effective insecticide against fruit flies.
However, if you’re a consumer of food products containing Truvia, you have a choice to make.
One of the core assumptions of modern toxicology is “the dose makes the poison.” Drinking a glass of water is good for you – Drinking a barrel of water is toxic to you. Conversely, the most acutely lethal toxin known to science is the botulinum toxin – the same toxin used millions of times around the world to get rid of wrinkles.
Based upon this assumption (and the safety studies mentioned previously), Erythritol, and by extension Truvia, is…
- Safe to humans
- Deadly to fruit flies
However, not every scientist in the world believes in the infallibility of “the dose makes the poison.”
- Some scientists question whether doses that are “safe for human consumption” are equally safe for babies in the womb.
For example, this study found that a dose of atrazine (a commonly used herbicide) 20,000 times lower than the lowest level known to affect adult frogs caused 20% of tadpoles to become hermaphroditic in adulthood.
And it’s not just the effect of toxins on our little frog babies. Not all toxins follow the “normal” monotonic curve in which the response to a dose of toxin increases with the size of the dose. Some toxins respond as per the non-monotonic curves pictured below.
For example, this study found that lower doses of BPA (bisphenol A) can have larger impacts upon the proliferation of prostate tumors in adult male humans than higher doses. Weird but true.
At the end of the day, what does all of this mean to you???
- Should you buy and consume products containing Truvia and/or Erythritol?
- Should you buy and consume products containing Truvia and/or Erythritol if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant?
- Should you buy a jar of Truvia and leave it open in your kitchen to kill fruit flies?
- I would rather drink water
- If I had to choose a calorie-free sweetener, I would choose stevia over Truvia
- I would also advise all potential parents to follow my lead.
What about you?
- What do you think of the research?
- Do you consume Truvia?
- Will you continue to consume Truvia?
- Science Mag
- PLOS ONE
- Wikipedia – Erythriol
- EFSA Journal – Safety of Erythiol
- Erythritol: an interpretive summary of biochemical, metabolic, toxicological and clinical data
- Chronic (1-year) oral toxicity study of erythritol in dogs
- Subchronic oral toxicity studies with erythritol in mice and rats
- Gastrointestinal tolerance of erythritol and xylitol ingested in a liquid
- Laxative threshold of sugar alcohol erythritol in human subjects
- Gastrointestinal response and plasma and urine determinations in human subjects given erythritol
- Hermaphroditic, demasculinized frogs after exposure to the herbicide atrazine at low ecologically relevant doses
- The Xenoestrogen Bisphenol A Induces Inappropriate Androgen Receptor Activation and Mitogenesis in Prostatic Adenocarcinoma Cells
Like this article?
Subscribe to @healthhabits and my friends at Mail Chimp will make sure that every time I scribble an article for @healthhabits, it will end up in your email inbox.
In addition to the articles, I will be writing a series of Special Reports this year exclusively for @healthhabits subscribers.
Subscribe now and make sure you don’t miss out.