The selling of olestra

M. Nestle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


PROCTER AND GAMBLE Company spent 30 years and an estimated $500 million to bring its non-digestible fat substitute, olestra, to market. The Food and Drug Administration approved olestra as a food additive but requires products containing olestra to carry a warning statement about its potential effects on gastrointestinal function. In obtaining approval for olestra, P and G conducted a lengthy, persistent, and comprehensive campaign to enlist support from members of Congress; FDA staff; and food, nutrition, and health professionals. This campaign raises larger questions about corporate influence on government policies, and the relationships of corporations to health professionals. To address these larger concerns, the author reviews the history of olestra's approval; describes P and G's campaign to obtain support from FDA and Congress, to defend olestra against critics, and to market it to professionals, the press, and consumers; and suggests implications for public health policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-520
Number of pages13
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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