CSPI Recommends Avoiding Fried Foods at Burger King & McDonald's Until Frying Oil No Longer Partially Hydrogenated

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson


With separate announcements this week, Burger King and McDonald's clearly see the handwriting on the wall: partially hydrogenated oil, which has been causing tens of thousands of fatal heart attacks annually, is on its way out of the food supply. That process will be accelerated by city and state laws, like New York City’s, which bar restaurants’ use of artificially produced trans fat, and possibly by lawsuits, like the one CSPI filed against KFC. Eventually, the Food and Drug Administration may even revoke its approval for partially hydrogenated oil once and for all.

Many restaurants have largely eliminated trans fat. Among the big chains, Wendy's has switched to a healthier frying oil, and KFC and Taco Bell will eliminate trans fat from most of their foods by May. It's disappointing that Burger King is only beginning in-store testing and doesn’t expect to begin a national roll-out for almost two years. (Whether the company will stick to even that slow schedule is questionable, considering McDonald's misplaced 2002 promise to switch to a healthier oil by 2003.) McDonald's is now making faster progress, with well over a thousand restaurants already using trans-free oils, but it won’t complete the change-over in its 12,000 other restaurants for many months.

The trans-fat laggards should at least inform their customers through notices on menus and menu boards which foods contain trans fat.

The bottom line for consumers is that they should avoid eating deep-fried products at McDonald's, Burger King, and other restaurants unless they know the foods are made with trans-free oils.