KFC's oil attacked as heart hazard

Natalie Brown, a spokesperson for KFC Canada, declined to comment on the lawsuit or the type of the frying oil used in Canada. "It's a U.S.-only issue at this time,"…

The Toronto Star
June 14, 2006

KFC's oil attacked as heart hazard
‘Food police' launch lawsuit in U.S. KFC Canada declines to comment.
Lisa Richwine

A United States consumer group is suing the operator of the KFC fried chicken restaurant chain to try to force it to stop frying foods in an artery-clogging fat.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, in a suit filed against KFC parent Yum Brands Inc., said some KFC meals were "startlingly" high in harmful trans fat from the partially hydrogenated oils used for frying.

Natalie Brown, a spokesperson for KFC Canada, declined to comment on the lawsuit or the type of the frying oil used in Canada.

"It's a U.S.-only issue at this time," she told the Toronto Star's Dana Flavelle.

Most KFC restaurants in Canada are operated by Priszm Canadian Income Fund under licence from Yum Brands.

The suit, which KFC called frivolous, seeks to force the chain to stop cooking with trans fat or prominently warn customers about the health hazard in the restaurants.

KFC "does not properly warn, disclose or even tell consumers that they are eating food items prepared with the worst oil available," the centre said in a legal complaint filed in Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

The group asked the court to order KFC to switch to a healthier frying oil. If that is ruled out, the centre said, the court should require signs at KFC outlets saying, "KFC fried chicken and certain other foods contain trans fat, which promotes heart disease."

KFC spokeswoman Laurie Schalow said the company provides trans- fat values and other nutrition details on its website and in restaurants and that all KFC products are safe to eat.

"This is a frivolous lawsuit completely without merit, and we intend to vigorously defend our position," she said.

The company has been reviewing alternative oils, but must consider a number of issues such as availability, transportation and maintaining taste, she added.

Health experts suggest minimizing trans-fat consumption as much as possible. Research shows the fat raises LDL or "bad" cholesterol, while lowering HDL, the "good" cholesterol.

The centre, often nicknamed the "food police," is known for campaigning against high-calorie and high-fat fare.

The industry-funded Center for Consumer Freedom said the public interest centre filed the suit simply to generate media coverage.

In Canada, Priszm's unit value fell yesterday, but analysts said that probably had more to do with tough stock-market conditions than with KFC's cooking oil.


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