The Food and Drug Administration’s Food Advisory Committee on Friday recommended approval of Procter & Gamble’s fat substitute, olestra, despite testing by the company that showed some adverse health effects on people who consumed the product.
While the committee’s recommendation is not binding on the agency, its advice is usually accepted. In this case, five of the 20 committee members expressed strong reservations about olestra’s safety.
Dr. David A. Kessler, the commissioner of food and drugs, said that a decision about the fat substitute, which can be used to create fat-free potato chips and other snacks like tortilla chips, could be made in about two months, and that all concerns would be considered.
Olestra, a synthetic chemical of sugar and vegetable oil, travels through the body without leaving any calories behind.
Testing indicated many healthy people who daily ate less than an ounce of potato chips containing olestra developed a wide range of gastrointestinal problems, ranging from mild to severe diarrhea, to cramps.