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OLESTRA Olestra is a chemical fat-free food add

Olestra is a chemical fat-free food additive which was conditionally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on January 24, 1996 for use in savory snack foods. A major new food product developed by Proctor & Gamble (P&G) at great expense, potato chips containing olestra underwent test marketing in supermarkets in three American cities, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Grand Junction, Colorado in May and June, 1996). Olestra potato chips will soon to be introduced on a mass-marketing basis in retail stores throughout the nation. This latest addition to the junk food market has generated considerable controversy because of concerns expressed in health and scientific quarters regarding its possibly deleterious effects on human health.

Since 1971, Procter & Gamble, the world's largest foodmaker, has invested approximately $300 million in developing olestra (Miller & Springer, 1996, p. 50). Olestra is a sucrose polyester, which is made by combining sugar with fatty acids (six triglycerides). P & G originally intended olestra as a new cholesterol reducing investigatory drug in 1971. In 1975, P&G filed a petition with FDA for approval on that basis, but withdrew it in 1988. P&G filed a new petition for approval of olestra by FDA in 1990 as a fat substitute in all foods, which it later narrowed to savory snack foods. (Hunter, 1996, p. 10). Over 25 years P & G claims to have conducted more than 150 studies, including 43 clinical trials, on the effects of olestra on animals and on humans (Shapiro, 1996, p. 60). Conservative supporter of olestra, Henry Miller, calls it the "most tested food in history" (1996, p. A12.)

Attractiveness and Commercial Significance

Other fat substitutes are added to snack foods by a baking process which distorts the taste. Olestra, which withstands high cooking temperatures, can be fried. Clinical trials and test marketing have shown that olestra potato chips resemble the mouth f...

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