FDA Approves Use of Olean in Popcorn

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced the approval of Olean® (also known as olestra) in prepackaged ready-to-heat popcorn (such as microwave popcorn).

Olestra can replace the added fat and calories from fat in fried foods. Snack foods made with olestra have been tremendously popular with consumers and products include Frito-Lay’s WOW!™ potato and tortilla chips (Lay’s®, Ruffles® and Doritos®), Nabisco’s Fat-Free Ritz® and Fat-Free Wheat Thins® crackers, and P&G’s Fat-Free Pringles®.

Unlike other available fat replacers, olestra can withstand the high temperatures of frying. It gives foods the rich taste and creamy texture of ordinary fat because it is made primarily from fat. Olestra is not digested; it passes through the digestive tract but is not absorbed into the body. As a result, it has no fat and no calories.

Olestra has many benefits including:

  • Helps control fat and calories -- Reducing fat and caloric intake are important dietary recommendations of health authorities. Olestra provides no fat or calories. In a one-ounce serving of potato chips, for example, it can cut all the fat and slightly more than half the calories, with no taste trade-off.
  • Provides great taste -- Olestra looks like fat, fries like fat, and tastes like fat. Snacks made with olestra taste as good as their full-fat counterparts.
  • Increases variety of low-fat and fat-free snacks -- Olestra provides great tasting snacks which are low in or free of fat.
  • Can be a valuable part of a healthy lifestyle -- Olestra does not replace the need for dietary moderation and balance, however, olestra is an additional tool to assist people in managing their intake of fat and calories. Studies have shown that products made with olestra are effective in helping people reduce the percentage of calories from fat in their diets, and that olestra snacks can easily be incorporated into a sensible overall healthy eating plan.
  • Provides more consumer choices -- Research shows that Americans are continually searching for good-tasting, low-calorie, reduced-fat choices to consume as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. The availability of a variety of low-calorie ingredients, including olestra, allows food manufacturers to choose the most appropriate ingredient, or combination of ingredients for a given product -- the multiple ingredient approach. More ingredients mean more consumer choices.
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