For Immediate
January 26, 1999

For more information:

Utz Chips Made With Olestra Misbranded, CSPI Charges
Utz Labeling Does Not Comply With FDA Conditions

WASHINGTON - The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) charged today that packages of Utz’s new “Yes” Olean-containing potato chips do not bear the proper sickness surveillance label. CSPI said that packages should include an 800 number to call for consumers who become ill.

“Yes” chips contain olestra, an indigestible fat made by Procter & Gamble (P&G) and marketed under the brand name Olean. The FDA requires labels to state, “Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools.”

As part of its agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the approval of olestra products, P&G said that it would “establish a system to collect adverse events via 800#s on olestra containing products.” The system has received thousands of reports from people who suffered olestra-related illnesses. “Yes” packages list only an “Utz Mail Order Dept.” 800 number. In contrast, Pringles’ and Lays’ olestra-chip packages provide 800 numbers for “questions or comments.”

“We’re disappointed that Utz is endangering its customers by marketing chips made with Olean,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of CSPI, a non-profit consumer-advocacy group. “But since Utz has chosen to use Olean, a fake fat that makes some consumers sick, the very least it should do is provide consumers who get sick a clearly marked 800 number. I urge consumers who believe that “Yes” chips made them sick to call CSPI at 1-888-OLESTRA or to send a report via the Internet (”

CSPI has provided the FDA with more than 2,000 adverse-reaction reports from people aged 2 to 82 who ate olestra-containing chips. P&G has submitted more than 13,000 additional reports. Even though those reports probably represent only a small fraction of the people who have been affected by olestra, olestra is still the most complained-about additive in history.

The hundreds of people who have sought medical attention after eating olestra chips include many who went to the emergency room. In some cases, doctors diagnosed olestra as the cause of the symptoms. Victims reported that olestra’s side effects caused them problems ranging from mild inconvenience to severe diarrhea and incapacitating cramps.

“Even if you don’t notice any gastrointestinal symptoms from olestra, it could be harming your health. Olestra prevents the body from absorbing carotenoids which may help protect against chronic diseases,” said Jacobson. “The long-term use of olestra in snack foods could potentially cause thousands of cases of cancer and heart disease each year.”