Statement from Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D. on the FDA Advisory Committee Hearing on Olestra|
Michael F. Jacobson is the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI, a nonprofit, health advocacy organization, has been a prominent opponent of olestra.
I was pleased that the committee generally agreed that the label notice should be retained. I was especially pleased that several of the members agreed with CSPI that the notice should be made more visible and include a toll-free number. However, I was disappointed that most members of the committee expressed little concern about nutrient losses and gastrointestinal symptoms caused by olestra. Their views were predictable though, considering the way the questions were framed. For instance, the committee considered only studies done in the past two years, whereas it was earlier studies that showed olestra can cause severe symptoms.
CSPI will continue its efforts to discourage the use of olestra. Last week, CSPI petitioned the FDA not to allow the term "Fat Free" on labels on foods that contain olestra. The fact is, those foods are loaded with fat, though it is indigestible. CSPI urges people who believe that they have suffered diarrhea or other adverse affects due to olestra to contact us at 1-888-OLESTRA or at www.cspinet.org/olestraform.
CSPI is a nonprofit consumer organization based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on foodsafety and nutrition. It led efforts to get the "Nutrition Facts" labels on all foods; to restrict theuse of sodium nitrite, sulfites, and other dangerous additives; and to halt many deceptive foodads. CSPI is funded largely by the one million subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter.