KFC to Eliminate Trans Fats

Loaded with fat, salt, cholesterol, and calories, KFC’s chicken may never be considered a healthy eating option. However, the fast-food chain is taking steps to reduce the health risks of its products by eliminating artificial trans fat in its cooking oil. The overhaul is expected to be completed by April of 2007 in all of its 5,500 outlets.

The impetus for the conversion lies in large part with the New York City Board of Health. The board is considering whether to place an outright ban on artificial trans fats in city restaurants. In addition, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) had sued KFC Corp. in June because of the company’s inclusion of trans fats in their foods. After KFC’s announcement, the CSPI decided to drop out of the lawsuit.

The announcement has delighted consumer advocates and health officials. “KFC is making significant changes to help Americans make healthier choices,” said U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona. “I encourage other companies to follow their lead.” Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the CSPI, added, “Assuming KFC goes through with it, it would be a tremendous improvement for the nutritional quality of their foods.”

Jacobson called on other chains to follow KFC’s lead: “What are McDonald’s and Burger King waiting for now?” he asks. “If KFC, which deep-fries almost everything, can get the artificial trans fat out of its frying oil, anyone can. Colonel Sanders deserves a bucket full of praise.” Chains such as Wendy’s, Ruby Tuesday, Chili’s, and Legal Sea Food have already taken measures to eliminate trans-fatty acids in their cooking oil.

The average American eats approximately 4.7 pounds of trans fats per year. These acids have been clearly linked to heart disease, clogged arteries, and obesity. They have also been found to reduce HDL (good) cholesterol while increasing LDL (bad) cholesterol. KFC plans to substitute a low-linolenic soybean oil for the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil it currently uses.

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