Trans Fat Transformation


KFC, one step ahead of New York City's Board of Health, announced today that it is eliminating trans fats from its menu, a process it expects to complete by April. It will use soybean oil instead of partially hydrogenated vegetable fat for frying. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which this year sued KFC in D.C. for not posting conspicuous enough trans fat warnings (and today said it was dropping the suit), no doubt would like to take credit for the switch, but KFC says it's been in the works for a few years. Fried chicken will still be just as fattening, of course, and publicity surrounding KFC's switch may even lead to greater consumption of it—in which case I'm sure CSPI will be ready with a new lawsuit, charging that the elimination of trans fats was a ploy designed to trick customers into believing the chain's food is good for you.

Update: Litigation enthusiast John "Sue the Bastards" Banzhaf, who brags that he "started the fat lawsuit movement," has issued a press release (not online) asserting that "the eighth fat lawsuit has just been successful," referring to CSPI's now-retracted complaint against KFC. Aside from the temporal impossibility of causing a change in KFC's menu that has been in the works for at least two years by filing a lawsuit last June, note the ambiguous use of fat. The case had nothing to do with obesity, and to date no one has successfully sued a restaurant for making him fat. But the CSPI case did involve cooking fat, as did the lawsuit about the beef tallow that Hindus and vegetarians were (understandably) upset to discover in their McDonald's French fries after the chain had supposedly switched to vegetable oil. That case, which was cooked up by Banzhaf's law school students, is also on his list of "successful fat lawsuits."