Last week The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) circulated a press release (enclosed) lauding television host Rosie O'Donnell for turning down an offer to become a spokesperson for Frito-Lay's "Wow" chips. CSPI is campaigning against the right of consumers to purchase snack foods that, like "Wow," contain the FDA-approved fat substitute olestra.
CSPI's use of Rosie O'Donnell in their scare campaign represents a new low for the group. CSPI implies falsely that Ms. O'Donnell turned down the endorsement deal because she agrees with CSPI that olestra is unsafe. The facts are entirely to the contrary. In an interview with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), Ms. O'Donnell's agent, Risa Shapiro, explained that food-safety questions were never even considered in the decision not to endorse the chips. "Rosie gets asked to do [endorsements] all the time. Just because she turned down a deal to do a reading club promotion doesn't mean she thinks reading is bad," said Shapiro, clearly irritated over the misuse of her client's good name.
According to ACSH President Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, "the FDA followed a common-sense, scientific approach when it cleared olestra's first regulatory hurdle. The agency concluded that olestra is intrinsically safe. Now consumers can use their own judgment in deciding when and how often to incorporate olestra into a well-balanced, varied diet." And, said Dr. Whelan," while olestra, like all other foods and additives, is not perfect, its potential benefits should make it a positive addition to the American diet."