Thursday, May. 27, 2010


When it comes to nutrition, what better equation could there be than zero calories, zero grams of cholesterol and zero grams of fat? In January 1996, the FDA approved olestra as a food additive. Cut out the unhealthy cooking oil. Shred the package of shortening. Bury the stick of butter. Frito-Lay was among the first companies to jump on board, introducing its WOW! division of potato chips in 1998 to claim fat-free stomach satisfaction. But olestra proved to be a greedy chemical. It not only removed unwanted fat from foods but also negated the body's ability to absorb essential vitamins. Side effects included cramps, gas and loose bowels, turning fat-free French fries into a foiled business fad. The FDA has kept olestra as a legal food additive to this day, though, leaving its health implications in the hands of individual consumers.