Re: BIO/LAW: FDA and Olestra

From: Dave Sill (
Date: Sat Feb 17 2001 - 19:19:46 MST

Harvey Newstrom <> wrote:
> Olestra is a non-digestible oil. Like Castor Oil, it goes all the
> way through the system and can cause uncontrollable diarrhea and
> cramping.

Castor oil doesn't cause diarrhea because it's undigestible. It causes
diarrhea because it contains a trace amount of ricin, a substance which in
larger--but still quite small--amounts causes death by dehydration due to
uncontrollable diarrhea.

> It is true that scientific studies show that the incidence
> of this to no higher with Olestra than with regular chips. But for
> some reason, consumers of regular chips don't seem to report this
> phenomenon while consumers of Olestra do. The scientific studies do
> not seem to match the experience of actual consumers.

So what? There is a small percentage of the population with severe peanut
allergies. One peanut can be fatal to them. Death is arguably more serious
than severe gas and diarrhea, yet the FDA hasn't banned peanuts. Why not?
Well, because lots of people like them and aren't allergic to them. Those
who shouldn't eat peanuts can simply not eat them.

> It is normal for the FDA to review consumer complaints for a new food
> or drug product. If there is a high number of complaints, they
> require these to be studied before use of the new product can be
> expanded into higher-use applications.

On the one hand we have reports of severe diarrhea in some small percentage
of the population. On the other hand, we have millions of obese people who
could benefit dramatically from wider use of Olestra. Once reasonable
precautions have been taken, further delays to ensure absolute compatibility
with the entire population of the world are foolish and borderline immoral.

> ... All recalled products, such as Thalidomide,
> were first proven safe in the laboratory.

Nonsense. Nothing can be proven safe. And obviously if it was, it couldn't
cause harm, could it, unless the definitions of "safe" and "prove" have been
changed recently.

> >Why would federal health regulators unnecessarily restrict such a
> >desirable and popular product?
> Because many people report severe, painful and embarrassing symptoms
> within an hour of eating this substance.

Well, gee, we wouldn't to *embarrass* anyone, would we? Sheesh. Meanwhile,
we refuse to allow Olestra to be used to improve the actual, physical health
of millions of Americans.

I've eaten Olestra, and I never had a negative reaction to it. But you know
what I'd do if I did? I'd stop eating it. Duh.


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