Fri, Feb 02, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Foundation calls on food operators to drop trans-fat oil

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH BLOOMBERG

French fries are sorted at a McDonald's fast food outlet in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

PHOTO: EPA

Consumer advocates yesterday urged the nation's fast-food chains and coffee shops to follow their US counterparts and stop using cooking oil containing trans fats.

As studies increasingly show a link between consumption of trans fats and cardiovascular diseases, the food industry should immediately stop using it, the Consumers' Foundation (消基會) said.

"If Americans can, why can't we [stop using trans-fat cooking oil]?" foundation chairman Cheng Jen-hung (程仁宏) said yesterday, adding that local restaurant operators should follow suit and put clear labeling on the products.

Burger King Holdings Inc announced yesterday that it planned to switch to trans-fat-free oil in the US and Canada by late next year and has begun testing alternatives at some restaurants.

The healthier oil will first be used in New York before the city's ban on frying using trans-fat oil takes effect in July, the company said in a statement yesterday.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc in the US also said yesterday that it was trying to drop trans-fat oil, without specifying a target date.

Several fast-food operators have been making the shift to trans-fat-free oil since last November in response to consumer demand.

Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks and McDonald's have announced plans to use new cooking oils, while Wendy's International Inc said it has already cut the additive at its 6,000 US locations.

McDonald's, the world's largest fast-food chain, has not specified a date for when its trans fat-free oil, a canola-based blend, will be used nationwide in the US, but its branch in Taiwan has moved faster.

McDonald's Taiwan started using healthier unhydrogenated vegetable oil in its 350 outlets nationwide late last month. The shift followed six months of tests to make sure that the new oil would preserve the taste and texture of its famous French fries, Viya Chen (陳薇雅), the company's assistant vice president for marketing and communications, said yesterday.

KFC Taiwan, meanwhile, said in November that it would follow the US headquarters' decision to conform with national safety standards and shift to trans-fat-free oil.

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