Center for Science in the Public Interest

For Immediate Release: February 11, 2005

McDonald’s Settles Landmark Trans Fat Lawsuits

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson

The excellent legal settlement reached between McDonald’s and and in the class action on the same matter is a perfect example of how litigation can motivate food companies to change their practices for the better. The programs that the American Heart Association will be able to sponsor should accelerate the food industry’s movement from partially hydrogenated oils to more healthful natural oils.

Partially hydrogenated oil causes tens of thousands of premature deaths each year and is an ingredient whose days are numbered. The Food and Drug Administration should act on CSPI’s petitions and virtually ban partially hydrogenated oil and, in the interim, at least require restaurants to disclose when they use it.

When McDonald’s announced that it was reformulating its frying oil to contain less trans fat, the company told the public that its fried foods would be healthier. By retracting its promise as quietly as it did, McDonald’s purposefully deceived its customers.

While this settlement will help undo some of the damage, McDonald’s should keep its promise and change its frying oil, as it already has in Denmark and Australia. All restaurants of any kind should immediately switch to healthier oils for the sake of their customers’ health.

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