Frito-Lay has received notice that it will be sued by a consumer in Massachusetts for deceptive labeling, specifically its line of "Light" potato chips. These potato chips are made with olestra, a fat substitute known to cause stomach cramps, diarrhea and other digestive problems.
In a recent study, subjects only needed to consume about 16 chips to suffer such side effects.
A warning has been issued by [The Centre for Science in the Public Interest] warning consumers not to eat any products containing Olestra.
Olestra depletes carotenoids in the body, and this can lead to susceptibility to certain cancers. Studies have shown that people with diets rich in carotenoids have lower rates of cancer.
Cancer experts are urging Americans to eat much greater quantities of vegetables and fruits, in part because of their carotenoids and other phytochemicals. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids have reduced cancer incidence in animals exposed to carcinogens.
In January 1996, just three weeks before the FDA approved olestra, the federal government (HHS, USDA) published the newest edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the nation's basic nutrition policies. That document urged people to consume carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables because of their likely role in preventing cancer and other chronic diseases.
How can the FDA approve olestra, a food additive that depletes the body of beneficial substances, when the National Cancer Institute states the following:
Fruits and vegetables are sources of vitamins and minerals (including vitamins A, C, E, and folate), carotenoids and other antioxidants, fiber, and various phytochemicals. . . . Each of these substances may play a role in reducing risk. More likely, it is a combination of these factors, and others not yet explored, which may confer protections.
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Frito-Lay in Olestra Lawsuit
|. By Jane Mundy|
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