This is the stevia plant. The plant has been grown, harvested and used in South America to sweeten foods and beverages for more than 200 years.
While we can expect to see this stuff in the stores this fall, we are going to start seeing it as a sweetener in beverages and foods (like yogurts, cereals & snack bars) early next year. Coca-Cola co-developed the product with Cargill and has exclusive rights to using Truvia in beverages ... so expect the first roll-out there.
It seems like every time there is a new "miracle" ingredient, bad things follow. Remember the huge deal about Olestra? As fat substitute that adds no fat, calories or cholesterol to products it was first used in WOW brand potato chips by Frito-Lay. Things were all fine-and-dandy until some nasty side-effects were linked to Olestra and the FDA mandated this message be placed on all packages containing the ingredient:
This Product Contains Olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. Vitamins A, D, E, and K have been added.Because of all that nasty publicity, the WOW chips are now referred to as "Lays Light". Just because you change the name doesnt mean that those gross side-effects no longer exist people!
Should we be worried about Truvia? Only time will tell. I, for one, will be keeping an eye on it. This is for two reasons 1) I expect some bad type of outcome and some "suprising" and "unknown" side-effects and 2) I currently hate the taste of the sweetener in Diet Coke and for that reason stik to the bad-for-you-but-oh-so-delicious sugary version of Coke. If this stuff is a miracle and can make Coke something that has no sugar but tastes delicious (and isnt going to kill me) then there might be a future Truvia convert in the house :)