RE: BIO/LAW: FDA and Olestra

From: Ben Houston (
Date: Sat Feb 17 2001 - 17:46:02 MST

Chris Rasch wrote:
>>While olestra causes mild gastrointestinal symptoms in a small number
>>of consumers, the frequency is no greater than with regular, full-fat

Harvey Newstrom said:
> But for
> some reason, consumers of regular chips don't seem to report this
> phenomenon while consumers of Olestra do.

This is because Olestra is a new product. The media, or the attention of
the world, is focused on it. They don't care about the old chips - that's
old news. What is news is that their might be a dangerous side effect thus
each case is news - is doesn't mean that it is significant.

It is sort of like when there was an epidemic of "flesh eating disease" here
in Canada. Basically there was an outbreak in a city and a few got it.
Then for the next six months or so every new case made headlines. In fact
there is a low rate of this disease happening all the time but it was
usually not reported - or after the epidemic did each new isolated indecent
become newsworthy.

Harvey Newstrom said:
> We cannot just ignore a high
> number of consumer complaints just because laboratory testing cannot
> reproduce the problem. All recalled products, such as Thalidomide,
> were first proven safe in the laboratory. Some of their effects were
> not detected until a high number of problem reports started coming in
> from the field.

This isn't to say that there might be something, but trying to infer the
truth though self selected sampling (reported illnesses to FDA) is extremely
error prone. More studies are probably the way to a solution if the
self-selected sample is figured to be near significant.

All the best,
-ben houston

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