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For Immediate
January 13, 1998

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New Olestra Study: Nothing New

A study done by Procter & Gamble and its university consultant, andpublished in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, may beinterpreted by some as indicating that olestra does not cause gastrointestinal symptoms. MichaelF. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, had the followingcomment about the study.

"P&G's new study is misleading junk science that appears to have been carefully designed not tofind a problem. It does not negate P&G's earlier, better studies that proved that olestra causesstomach cramps, diarrhea, and other symptoms. Those earlier studies were better able to identifyproblems because subjects ate olestra three times a day for eight weeks, not just one time on oneday. The new study was inadequately controlled, and didn't begin to assess effects for almost twodays after eating chips.

"Further evidence of olestra's harm comes from the 2,000-plus consumers in test-market citieswho reported to P&G and CSPI that they experienced cramps, diarrhea, and other symptomshours after eating olestra chips. Children and adults shouldn't have to play Russian roulette whenthey break open a bag of chips.

"Besides causing gastrointestinal symptoms, olestra poses a long-term risk because it inhibits thebody's absorption of carotenoids. Those nutrients are thought by many experts to reduce the riskof heart disease and cancer.

"CSPI and the researchers do agree on one point though: The new study found that olestra chipsdo not taste as good as regular chips."

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.