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Coke to sell drinks made with stevia

Associated Press / December 16, 2008
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NEW YORK - Coca-Cola Co. will begin selling products made with a new zero-calorie sweetener, despite no official nod from the government, but rival PepsiCo Inc. said that it will wait.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to determine that a sweetener made from the herb stevia is "generally regarded as safe," but its approval has taken longer than expected.

PepsiCo, of Purchase, N.Y., has two drinks made with stevia ready for market: a version of SoBe LifeWater and Trop 50, an orange juice product. But chief executive Indra Nooyi said PepsiCo won't begin selling the drinks until the FDA makes its decision. Meanwhile, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola is expected this week to begin selling three flavors of an Odwalla juice drink sweetened with stevia, The Wall Street Journal reports. A spokesman for Coca-Cola declined to comment.

Nooyi said sweeteners like those made with stevia are key in reversing the sales decline of carbonated soft drinks.

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