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Long a foe of Procter & Gamble Co.'s olestra, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is again trying to derail Food & Drug Administration approval of the zero-calorie fat substitute.

At the very least, the center would like to see olestra hobbled with warning labels and an educational campaign that would make it seem unpalatable.

It is widely expected olestra will get an initial nod at a mid-November FDA Food Advisory Committee. That set up a Washington battle of the news conferences last week.

CSPI, which in 1987 asked the FDA not to approve olestra because of data showing tumors, liver changes and other maladies in rats, once again attacked olestra's safety and asked that the FDA reject its use in savory snacks as P&G proposes.

If the FDA approves olestra, CSPI wants a graphic warning label, alerting consumers to possible side effects such as "diarrhea, gas, cramps" and loss of cancer fighting nutrients. Those with blood diseases, the proposed label states, should consult a physician before eating products with olestra. And CSPI would conduct its own educational campaign echoing those warnings.

P&G has proposed to the FDA its own "information" label about digestive effects and held its own news conference. Noted P&G senior VP-Research and Development Gordon Brunner, "We are confident that once FDA completes its careful review that it will approve olestra."

Jeanne Whalen and Andrea Sachs contributed to this story.

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