- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

A nationwide drive to make restaurant menus healthier for patrons got a boost yesterday as KFC promised to phase out trans fats from all of its fried foods by April and fast-food giants McDonald’s and Burger King vowed to follow suit soon.

KFC has already started phasing in a new trans fat-free soybean oil in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and its hometown market of Louisville, Ky. Washington-area restaurants will start to use the trans-fat-free cooking oil in the next few months, said KFC spokesman Rick Maynard.

All KFC fried foods, including the popular Original Recipe and Extra Crispy fried chicken, will contain zero grams of trans fat by April, KFC said, adding that it has not figured out how to make its biscuits without using trans fats.

Trans fats are artificially created from partially hydrogenated oils. They are a popular ingredient in snacks and fast-food menus because they are cheap, reusable and have a long shelf life. But recent research found that trans fats are a significant health risk because they raise levels of bad cholesterol while lowering levels of good cholesterol in the bloodstream, thereby increasing risk of heart disease and diabetes.

As many as 100,000 trans fat-related deaths occur each year, said Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

“This is a very important step in ridding restaurants of trans fat,” said Dr. Willett. “Deep-fried food can be healthy in moderation without the trans fat.”

Yesterday’s announcement coincided with a public hearing in New York City on a proposal to ban trans fats in city restaurants. The New York City Restaurant Association urged the city to reject the idea, saying that banning the use of trans fat will significantly increase restaurants’ cost of doing business but won’t make people healthier. A similar proposal was recently dropped in Chicago.

Following KFC’s announcement, the Center for Science in the Public Interest withdrew from a lawsuit filed against Yum Brands — parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut — for not informing the public of the high levels of trans fats in its products. The lawsuit is still being pursued, however, by D.C. law firm Heideman Nudelman and Kalick.

KFC joins Wendy’s as the only fast-food restaurants to have bans on cooking with trans fats in place. Wendy’s french fries and chicken contain zero trans fat.

Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are working on similar projects to eliminate trans fats from their food products, said Greg Dedrick, president of Kentucky Fried Chicken Corp.

McDonald’s Corp. is researching cooking oil alternatives that do not contain trans fat. “We are encouraged with the progress we are making,” said Catherine Adams, vice president of food safety and nutrition at McDonald’s.

Burger King is also moving toward a non-trans-fat policy and will begin testing its alternative oil within the next 90 days, said Chuck Fallon, president of Burger King in North America.

In recent months, Kraft Foods cut out trans fat in Oreo cookies and reduced the trans-fat levels in about 650 other snack foods, while Walt Disney said it will eliminate trans fat from food sold at its parks.

Beginning this year, the Food and Drug Administration’s ruling takes effect making it mandatory for businesses to inform the public of the amount of trans fat in their products.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide