- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — KFC said today it is phasing out trans fats in cooking its original recipe and extra-crispy fried chicken, potato wedges and other menu items but hasn’t found a good alternative yet for its biscuits.

Health experts say trans fats raise levels of artery-clogging cholesterol and contribute to heart disease.

The Louisville, Ky., restaurant chain said it will start using zero-trans-fat soybean oil systemwide in the United States and expects the rollout to be completed by April. KFC said many of its approximately 5,500 restaurants already have switched.

KFC President Gregg Dedrick said there would be no change in the taste of the chicken and other food items.

“There is no compromise,” he said at a Manhattan news conference. “Nothing is more important to us than the quality of our food and preserving the terrific taste of our product.”

Crispy Strips, wings, boneless wings, Buffalo and Crispy Snacker Sandwiches, popcorn chicken and Twisters also are part of the menu change.

Mr. Dedrick said some products, including biscuits, still will be made with trans fat while KFC keeps looking for alternatives.

The announcement came just ahead of a New York City Board of Health public hearing on a plan to make New York the first U.S. city to ban restaurants from serving food containing artificial trans fats.

The change at KFC applies only to U.S. restaurants for now, Mr. Dedrick said. He said the company was trying to find replacement oils for its overseas restaurants. He added that KFC outlets in some countries already use trans-fat-free oils, but he would not say which countries.

Artificial trans fat is so common that the average American eats 4.7 pounds of it a year, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The switch was applauded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which sued KFC in June over the trans-fat content of its chicken.

KFC isn’t the only business preparing for a trans-fat-free future.

Wendy’s International Inc., the burger restaurant chain company, already has switched to a zero-trans-fat oil. Fast-food leader McDonald’s Corp. had announced that it intended to do so as well in 2003 but has yet to follow through.

If New York City approves banning food with artificial trans fats, it would affect city restaurants only, not grocery stores. However, experts said the city’s food-service industry is so large, any change in its rules is likely to ripple nationwide.

“It’s huge. It’s going to be the trendsetter for the entire country,” said Suzanne Vieira, director of the culinary nutrition program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., where students are experimenting with substitute oils and shortenings.

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