What's New -- CSPI Press Releases

For immediate release: March 27, 1997

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-- Olean May Cut Hoopsters Down to Size --

The Final Four in Indianapolis could turn into a mad dash to the bathroom door, courtesy of snack chips made with Olean (olestra), the new fake fat. Olean snacks are being test marketed in Indiana in the form of Frito-Lay's Wow chips and Procter & Gamble's Fat Free Pringles. The chips have already caused thousands of people to suffer gastrointestinal problems, and today a leading nutrition-advocacy group urged teams to avoid the chips.

"Players, coaches, and fans should stay away from Olean," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Eating Olean could lead to plenty of unintended fast breaks to the bathroom and might even force players to miss the big game."

Jacobson wrote to the coaches of the Final Four, urging them to protect their chances of winning by telling their players not to eat Wow chips or Fat Free Pringles.

Since the test marketing began on February 24, more than 400 Hoosiers have reported to CSPI that they associated gastrointestinal symptoms with eating chips with olestra. Many more have called the manufacturers. People have reported fecal incontinence, severe diarrhea, painful stomach cramps, terrible gas, and other symptoms. Many people have contacted their doctor, and several were forced to go to the emergency room.

"Players should not risk messing up their jump shots and their game for a few fat-free potato chips," cautioned Jacobson. "Besides, what could be more embarrassing than taking it strong to the hole for a dunk and realizing that you've stained your uniform? The best way to avoid these problems is to avoid Olean."

CSPI is a nonprofit health-advocacy organization that focuses on nutrition and food safety. It is based in Washington, D.C., and is supported largely by its 900,000 members. It does not accept industry or government funding. CSPI led efforts to win passage of the law requiring nutrition labels on food packages and has publicized the nutritional content of many popular restaurant foods.

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