Why Even Bother?

McDonald’s to use new oil to reduce trans fatty acids

By LIZ AUSTIN Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO (AP) - McDonald’s plans to use a new cooking oil for french fries and other fried foods that it says will do less damage to your diet.

Nutritionists call the fast food giant’s effort to reduce trans fatty acids a good first step but say the change doesn’t make french fries a health food.

They're still french fries, and they're still high in fat,'' said Kathleen Zelman, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. But if people are going to eat them anyway, we can at least reduce the saturates which are artery-clogging.‘’

The Oak Brook-based company says the new oil will halve the trans fatty acid levels in its french fries while increasing the amount of the more beneficial polyunsaturated fat.

Trans fatty acids increase the body’s levels of bad cholesterol while simultaneously reducing its levels of good cholesterol, said Dr. Meir Stampfer, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.

Reducing the amounts of artery-clogging trans fatty acid levels in fast food allows people to painlessly lower their risk of heart disease, Stampfer said.

``People don’t have to change their habits, they don’t have to exert willpower; without doing anything they would be eating a healthier diet,‘’ he said.

McDonald’s worked with its longtime supplier Cargill to develop the new oil, which a few restaurants will begin using in October. All 13,000 domestic restaurants will use the oil by February.

Company executives say McDonald’s is the first national fast-food chain to set a goal of eliminating trans fatty acids in oil.

Stampfer said he hopes McDonald’s - and other fast food chains - eventually reach that goal.

``If we can get rid of trans fat in the diet, we could prevent thousands of heart attacks every year,‘’ he said.

Phil Sokolof, president of the National Heart Savers Association, said McDonald’s announcement would give consumers a false sense of security when eating fast food.

``French fries are still one of the worst foods for raising cholesterol level,‘’ Sokolof said.

The move comes about a month after a man sued McDonald’s and three other fast food chains in July, claiming their food made him obese.

The 56-year old man weighs 272 pounds, had heart attacks in 1996 and 1999 and has diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He said he ate fast food for decades, believing it was good for him until his doctor cautioned him otherwise.

McDonald’s spokesman Walt Riker said the oil switch had been in the works for years and was unrelated to legal actions.

Riker said the french fries will still contain beef flavoring, as they have for many years.

Vegetarian groups sued the company last year for using the flavoring while claiming its fries were vegetarian. The company in May agreed to pay $10 million to organizations that support vegetarianism and $2.4 million in legal fees.

Shares of McDonald’s fell 73 cents to close at $23.03 on the New York Stock Exchange.

I saw this on TV last night at the gym. Makes me sick to think about all of the people that are going to super size their meals, or eat more McDonalds now that the fries are “healthy”. So sad.

fryin in polyunsaturates is a bout as healthy as transfatty acids.

What gets me is the guy suing McDonalds. Suing them for what? Selling food? His own stupidity? I think the guy bringing the suit against McDonalds should be fined for stupidity as a public service.

Ive heard that before do you have some studies proof to back it up? Im not challenging you however Id like to know if that is valid, my father has been eating healthfully but still cooks with olive oil, if its not safe, and I cna proove it to him he’ll stop. Ed

Hey Ed, yes, cooking with polyunsaturates is very unhealthy, it damages the fats and can even create trans fats. However Olive Oil is not a polyunsaturate, it is a monounsaturate, and is very stable and safe for cooking, so don’t worry.

i’m with KC on this one. where does he justify suing mcdonalds for his own eating habits? and he thought the food was healthy before his doctor told him it wasn’t?! did the fact that he was a fat ass not tip him off that he might be eating wrong? i agree about the fine for stupidity and i propose it should be a hefty one. sorry, but there are definitely members of the population that single-handedly bring down the average IQ of the population by a few points. jeez.