PepsiCo, Inc. has reportedly launched a “fat-blocking” soda in Japan, sparking media interest in the latest product to take advantage of a Japanese government study finding that the water-soluble fiber supplement dextrin blocks fat absorption in the digestive system. According to various sources, “Pepsi Special” containing “indigestible dextrin” has received a “Food for Specified Heath Uses” label in Japan, which awards the designation to products with a demonstrated health benefit.
Although Pepsi Special will not be available in markets outside Japan, the product has already attracted criticism from scientists and consumer groups questioning whether dextrin is as safe and effective as advertised. “Unless Pepsi can provide data from controlled studies in humans to the contrary, their claim should be regarded as bogus and deceptive,” Harvard School of Public Health Chair of Nutrition Walter Willett told Time magazine. This sentiment was echoed by Center for Science in the Public Interest Executive Director Michael Jacobson, who added, “You shouldn’t add good things to bad things because that could encourage people to eat something that isn’t healthy for them.” See Time and Today Health, November 15, 2012.