P&G:Olean Will Not Clean Up Oil Spills

June 26, 2001

2 Min Read
P&G:Olean Will Not Clean Up Oil Spills

P&G:Olean Will Not Clean Up Oil Spills

CINCINNATI--A misleading story is circulating on various news outlets,including the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today. In the AP story, itstates that olestra, the fat-substitute made from soybean and other oils, iscurrently being shopped around at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asan environmental cleaner upper. (Think the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989.) However,the only similarity between the two products is that they are both derived fromsoybean or cottonseed oils.

However, according to Greg Allgood, associate director of the NutritionScience Institute at the Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) and makers of theolestra product Olean, this is a misnomer. What were discussing is a newingredient--not olestra--called SEFA [sucrose esters of fatty acids] made at thesame manufacturing plant as olestra, he clarified. Ive been tellingreporters that its not olestra, but thats apparently not interestingenough so they have changed the facts around.

Currently, the Cincinnati plant where olestra is made is working at50-percent capacity. P&G decided that, because the plant was alreadyproducing fats and oils, it began looking at making SEFA and its possibleindustrial applications. However, this is not the first time that this family ofoils has been used industrially. From environmental clean-ups to making paperfill smooth, there are just tons of ways these oils are used, Allgood stated.However, we havent fully tested SEFA, nor do we have any commercialcustomers. We havent gotten EPA approval yet, but we have had an initialdiscussion with the agency that has led to all of these rumors.

The one fact that has come across in the media reports has been P&Gspush to change the present label on Olean-containing food products, stating theycould cause potential abdominal cramping and loose stools. Even with thisdisagreeable wording, Olean products such as Frito-Lays Wow chips and P&GsFat-Free Pringles bring in $200 million a year.

Currently, P&G is planning to launch a health-care product using Olean,which is projected to be a $100 million business.

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