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Originally published November 8 2006

McDonald's to reduce trans fat content of food in European chains by 2008

by Ben Kage

(NaturalNews) On Tuesday, McDonald's announced it would be cutting the level of trans fats in its cooking oil to 2 percent by 2008 in its European restaurants, and claimed it was the first fast food chain on the continent to do so.

After the move, more than 6,300 McDonald's restaurants will sell food with less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving. This is good news for fast food consumers, as trans fats have been linked to obesity, increased heart disease risk, and higher blood pressure.

The fast food giant made a similar promise for its U.S. restaurants in 2002, promising to reduce trans fats in products such as Chicken McNuggets and french fries, but competitors Wendy's International and KFC beat them to the no-trans-fat punch. Neither Wendy's International nor KFC owner Yum Brands have commented about reducing trans fats in European outlets. McDonald's President and Chief Operating Officer Ralph Alvarez said that the company had tried cooking its fries in the same trans-fat-free oil Wendy's uses, but said it just didn't work for McDonald's products.

Still, McDonald's will be replacing its current rapeseed and sunflower oils with an oil that balances high oleic rapeseed oil and/or high oleic sunflower oil to form 2-percent-trans-fat cooking oil. It will first be used in restaurants in Sweden, Norway and Finland, then its use will move across Europe. McDonald's made no comment about using the oil in the United States. The FDA currently allows U.S. businesses to label their products free of trans fats if they contain less than 0.5 grams per serving, but European authorities do not allow such labeling.

"This TFA (trans fatty acid) reduction is part of our strategy to continuously improve the quality of our products and offer balanced choices to our customers," said group European president Denis Hennequin.


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