Monday, October 30, 2006

KFC to slash trans fats.

According to KFC announced Monday that it will switch to a cooking oil free of artery-clogging trans fatty acids in all of its Canadian and U.S. restaurants by early next year. That is a good thing health wise, but will it taste the same?

The fast-food giant said it will start using a healthier cooking oil that will ensure virtually all of the menu items will have zero grams of trans fat.

In Canada, the new canola cooking oil will be gradually phased in through the month of November in all KFC Canada restaurants in British Columbia and the Maritime provinces, followed by Quebec and Ontario.

By early 2007, all 786 KFC restaurants in Canada will have converted to the canola oil, the company said.

KFC Canada's preliminary nutritional analysis shows that the cooking oil has cut saturated fat levels in many products, on average, by 40 per cent.

"We've worked very hard to get virtually all of our products, including our original recipe chicken, to have zero grams of trans fat without compromising the great taste (customers) expect with KFC," said Jeff O'Neill, president and chief operating officer of the Priszm Canadian Income Fund, which operates KFC restaurants in Canada.

In the U.S., KFC will start using zero trans fat soybean oil for its Original Recipe and Extra Crispy fried chicken, Potato Wedges and other menu items.

KFC's American rollout is to be completed by April 2007, but the company said many of its approximately 5,500 restaurants already have switched to low linolenic soybean oil, replacing partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

The fast-food giant's decision won praise from a Washington, D.C.-based consumer health group that had filed a lawsuit against KFC in the U.S. over what it says can be "startlingly high" levels of trans fats.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is formally withdrawing from the lawsuit, it said in a written statement on Monday.

KFC joins the ranks of burger chain Wendy's International Inc., which has already switched to a zero trans-fat oil amid criticism that fast-food restaurants are contributing to obesity rates.

McDonald's announced in 2003 that it intended to do reduce trans fats in its products. But while the chain has introduced healthier foods, it has yet to follow through on its promise.

"What are McDonald's and Burger King waiting for now?" CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson asked in a statement.

"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."

Meanwhile, the debate on trans fats is expected to heat up south of the border in New York.

Public hearings to discuss the fate of trans fats in restaurants across the city are set to begin on Monday.

If approved, the ban would not extend beyond the city's limits, nor would it affect grocery stores.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the ingredient is so common that the average American eats 4.7 pounds of trans fats a year.

Many New York eatery owners use ingredients prepared elsewhere, and aren't always aware whether the foods they sell contain trans fats, Neighborhood Retail Alliance Richard Lipsky told The Associated Press.

Experts say the city's food service industry, with its 24,600 establishments, is so large that any ban is likely to be felt across the nation.

"It's going to be the trendsetter for the entire country," Suzanne Vieira, director of the culinary nutrition program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., told AP.

A Canadian federal task force has proposed new regulations that would see a two per cent limit of total fat content for vegetable oils and soft spreadable tub-type margarines; and a five per cent limit on all other foods containing industrially produced trans fats.

If followed, they would decrease the average trans fat intake of Canadians by at least 55 per cent.

Fats found in foods are made up of four different types of fatty acids, including polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, saturated and trans.

Trans fats are found naturally in some animal-based foods such as dairy products and beef and lamb.

But they are also formed when manufacturers use a chemical process that turns liquid oil into a semi-solid form.

The main benefits of these artery-clogging fats are that they enhance taste, extend shelf life, and break down less easily, which makes them suited to frying.

Trans fats are used in foods made with shortening, margarine or partially hydrogenated oil such as crackers, cookies, donuts, and fried foods like french fries.

Health experts suggest minimizing the consumption of trans fat, as research shows it raises LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, while lowering HDL, the "good" cholesterol.

Studies show that consuming just five grams of trans fats a day over many years boosts the risk of heart disease by 25 per cent.

I am not sure if it is a good idea for the government to dictate what should or should not be in prepared foods? Is'nt it up to you the consumer to decide what you door do not eat? Having said that good on KFC for making the change. I wonder if it will make changes in countries like NZ and Australia too?


Rymann said...

Bugger stole my car.

Rob Good said...

The old HQ