Other companies should follow suit to reduce trans & saturated fat

[**NOTE: Not long after McDonald's made the announcement that it would use a healthier cooking oil, the company broke its promise and announced that its initiative had stalled.]

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) today applauded McDonald’s for switching to less heart-damaging cooking oil than the oil the fast-food giant uses today for its french fries and other fried foods. The switch means that McDonald’s fries will have one-third less trans fat and saturated fat than they do now.

“This won’t make McDonald’s french fries a health food,” said Margo G. Wootan, CSPI’s director of nutrition policy, noting that a large order will still have 540 calories and almost a third of a day’s worth of artery-clogging fat. “But it is a good step forward toward reducing the artery-clogging fat in fried foods and helping Americans to reduce their risk of heart disease. Other restaurants and manufacturers of processed foods should take steps to reduce trans fat.”

In 1990, in response to pressure from CSPI and others, McDonald’s stopped using beef tallow in its deep fryers. But instead of switching to liquid vegetable oil, it switched to partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening. Frying in hydrogenated shortening results in increased levels of trans fats in the food. Trans fats are unsaturated but promote heart disease like saturated fat does. Numerous times in recent years, CSPI has called on McDonald’s and other national chains to switch to less heart-harmful frying oils.

The McDonald’s decision comes as the Food and Drug Administration is poised to require food manufacturers to list trans fats on food labels.