OTTWA, CANADA - Health Canada has rejected olestra, the indigestible fat substitute made by Procter and Gamble, for use as a food additive in Canada. According to a letter sent June 8 by Marc Le Maguer, the Director General of the Food Directorate, "Health Canada has completed its review of Olestra and has decided not to recommend that Olestra be permitted for use as a food additive in Canada."
"We're pleased that Health Canada has decided to protect Canadians from olestra-containing products," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a long-time opponent of olestra. "That will spare Canadians the gastrointestinal grief that thousands of U.S. consumers have experienced."
While Health Canada is saying "no" to olestra, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), under pressure from Procter and Gamble, is considering dropping the olestra warning notice ("may cause abdominal cramping or loose stools") from packages.
The FDA has received more than 18,000 adverse-reaction reports related to olestra (2,687 from CSPI; more than 16,000 from Procter and Gamble). That's more such reports than the FDA has received for all other food additives in history combined. Many reports describe cases of severe diarrhea, including several Canadians who ate olestra-containing products on visits to the U.S.
CSPI urges people who believe they suffered adverse effects as a result of eating olestra to file a report.