Stevia has been on the market as a supplement, but the FDA decided it is "generally recognized as safe" as a general purpose sweetener for foods and beverages.
Within hours of the OK, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo announced that their first drinks sweetened with Reb A, the commercial name for stevia-based sweeteners, would be hitting the store shelves soon.
Coca-Cola North America said Sprite Green and Odwalla juice drinks, due to go on sale this month, would be the first of what it expects will be many U-S products sweetened with its Truvia sweetener.
PepsiCo said it expects its first products would be SoBe Lifewater in three different flavors, due to be in stores soon.
Just last year, the FDA warned the popular tea maker Celestial Seasonings, that stevia might be "potentially unsafe.
Some researchers say, it may be dangerous to blood sugar, the kidneys and the cardiovascular and reproductive systems.