WASHINGTON -- The Patent and Trademark Office has granted Procter & Gamble a second one-year extension of the patent for its fat substitute, olestra. This ingredient is still awaiting approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
The original patent, granted in 1987, expired in January of 1994. At that time the U.S. government granted P&G its first one year extension. This was made possible because, in December of 1993, the regulations were amended to allow patents to be extended for up to five years if the product was subjected to regulatory review.
Olestra, a sucrose polyester, acts as a non-caloric fat substitute because it passes through the digestive system without being absorbed. Because it remains stable at elevated temperatures, it could be used high heat applications such as frying or baking once the FDA grants approval for use in foods.