the facts about OLESTRA
Olestra Quiz

Anyone thinking about eating olestra-laden Frito-Lay's Wow chips or Procter & Gamble's Fat Free Pringles, might first want to try this quiz.

Q. In Procter & Gamble's own studies, what effect did olestra have on diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, and other gastrointestinal cramps?

A. Olestra caused two- to eight-fold increases in various gastrointestinal symptoms.

Q. How severe have been the diarrhea and cramps attributed to Frito-Lay's olestra snacks?

A. One man said it felt like he was trying to pass a softball that wouldn’t move. A woman said it was like labor pain. An 11-year-old boy had diarrhea for three days. Several people developed "fecal urgency" in the middle of the night but didn’t get to the bathroom in time. Adults and children have defecated in their clothing. An elderly woman couldn’t leave her house for three days for fear of "having to go." At least 37 people have gone to the emergency room because of symptoms they attributed to olestra.

Q. What was the longest controlled study on children, and what was the maximum amount of olestra eaten by children?

A. 7 days. The children were given less than the equivalent of one ounce of potato chips per day.

Q. In the two key controlled studies on olestra, how many people were under 18 and over 44?

A. None

Q. Olestra interferes with the absorption of nutrients called carotenoids. What value do medical experts see in carotenoids?

A. They likely reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and macular degeneration (blindness).

Q. How many deaths due to heart disease and cancer might olestra cause if it replaced the vegetable oil in all snack foods?

A. Dr. Meir Stampfer, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, has estimated that regular consumption over a period of years of olestra snacks could cause thousands of deaths due to cancer and heart disease each year.

Q. How long was the longest study on the effect of olestra on carotenoids?                

A. 8 weeks, a period considered far too brief by many experts

Q. How many experts on carotenoids served on the government's advisory committee that recommended approval of olestra?

A. None at the first meeting; one at the second meeting.

Q. Of the 17 advisory committee members who initially recommended approval of olestra (5 advisors opposed approval), how many had affiliations with the food industry?

A. At least 9 of the 17 have been consultants to or otherwise associated with Nabisco, Pillsbury, and the Sugar Association, as well as the food-industry funded International Food Information Council and the International Life Sciences Institute.

Q. Such eminently credentialed doctors as Louis Sullivan (former Secretary of DHHS), William Klish (chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics nutrition committee), John Foreyt (University of Houston), Gil Omenn (University of Michigan), and Wayne Callaway (George Washington University Medical School), as well as the American Dietetic Association, have all endorsed the safety of olestra. What else do they have in common?

A. They have all served as paid consultants to, or received grants from, Procter & Gamble.

Q. How much are Procter & Gamble and Frito-Lay spending to persuade Americans that Pringles and Wow chips made with olestra are safe and tasty?

A. P&G is spending $100 million in 1998 and Frito-Lay is spending over $30 million, according to Advertising Age.

Q. What should people choose if they want to eat low-fat potato chips or tortilla chips?

A. Not Fat Free Pringles or Frito-Lay’s Wow chips! Instead, eat a tasty and safe alternative, such as Lay’s Baked Potato Chips or Tostitos, Guiltless Gourmet Tortilla Chips, or similar product. Those products are all baked.