July 15, 1997
Contact: Steve Thibodeau 202/226-7761
REP. CARSON CALLS FOR ACTION
Rep. Julia Carson called for implementation of a four-point plan of action on olestra in light of
constituent complaints about ingesting potato chips made with the fat substitute. Since
test-marketing of the product began in Indianapolis, Rep. Carson received nearly 30 complaints
from constituents who suffered from digestive problems caused by ingestion of olestra.
"We need to do a new, complete and independent review of olestra and its side effects," Rep.
Carson stated. "Today, I call upon the Food and Drug Administration to institute a review
commission for this purpose."
In addition to a new and independent review commission, Rep. Carson called for stronger, more
prominent warning labels on products made with olestra; a more conscious effort by the snack
industry to take care in the marketing of olestra-based snacks, especially with children; and a
public awareness campaign warned potential consumers of snacks made with olestra to the
potential side effects of the product.
"It is apparent to me and other residents of Indianapolis that olestra can do serious harm. My duty
to my constituents is to assure that their public health is not at risk," Rep. Carson stated. "The
implications for using olestra on a nationwide basis is also at stake. The effects of olestra on the
citizens of Indianapolis need to be examined throughly before expanding the use of this product to
other communities across America."
On June 10, 1997, Rep. Carson sent a letter to the FDA urging the agency to establish an
independent review commission on olestra. After receiving no response, Rep. Carson renewed
her call for a commission today, along with the other points of her action plan.
REP. CARSON'S FOUR POINT ACTION PLAN ON OLESTRA
- Urge the FDA to appoint a new and independent review commission to review the safety of
olestra immediately in light of data of sickness and illness caused by the test marketing of
products containing olestra. Originally, the FDA said that it would revisit the safety of olestra
after 30 months. This was in January, 1996. A new and independent review commission
should begin immediately to assess the sickness caused by olestra.
- The FDA and companies marketing products containing olestra should consider placing more
prominent warning labels on their products. Currently, the following label is placed on
products with olestra: "This product contains Olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping
and loose stools. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K have been added."
- The snack industry must take greater care in the marketing of products containing olestra,
especially towards children. For instance, products being test marketed in Indianapolis area
grocery stores are placed in obtrusive areas of which attract the eye of children, i.e. the candy
aisle. Children cannot read warning labels and may be prone to sickness because of the
product. Action needs to be taken to assure children are not adversely affected by these
CSPI's July 15th Press Release on Olestra in Indianapolis
- The FDA and the industry needs to do more in terms of stressing the warning signals related to
illness caused by the ingestion of olestra-based snacks. Parents and children need to know the
possible side-effects of ingesting olestra before buying the product. This is especially true
since scientists have indicated that olestra inhibits the absorption of key vitamins and
carotenoids, which could lead to long and short-term health defects. Not enough has been
done in this arena, and more needs to be done to ensure the public health of consumers is