Burger King told to remove trans fats or be sued

Having recently retracted a legal suit against Kentucky Fried Chicken when the fast food chain removed trans fats from its deep fried menu items, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has another fast food chain in its sights. CSPI has accused Florida-based Burger King, the world's number two hamburger chain, of inappropriately cooking with trans fats and failing to let consumers know about their potential health hazards.

Burger King, which has more than 7000 restaurants in the US alone, quickly responded to the Washington, DC-based better nutrition lobby group's action by stating that it was testing new trans fat-free oils that may be used in its North American restaurants by year's end. However, Burger King spokesperson Keva Silversmith told Associated Press such a change may not occur until 2008, depending on the success of the testing programme.

Silverman said Burger King was "committed to eliminating trans fats from its products" and "disappointed CSPI elected to bring this baseless lawsuit."

According to CSPI, Burger King was the last major fast food chain to fully commit to trans fats removal. Although Burger King made an earlier pledge to begin reformulation by the end of 2008 and would meet municipal trans fat bans such as those due to take effect in New York City on July 1 and Philadelphia over the next 18 months, this was not swift enough for CSPI and prompted the lawsuit.

"Despite the moves of its competitors and the well-known dangers of artificial trans fat, it is unfortunate that Burger King is still using partially hydrogenated oil in fried foods and other menu items," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Some of its meals contain three, four, or five times as much trans fat as is safe to consume in an entire day. I hope that this lawsuit will spur Burger King to quickly eliminate the trans fat and, in the meantime, to warn its customers that it's there."

The CSPI suit charges, "Burger King for violating District of Columbia's Consumer Protection Procedures Act by selling foods laden with trans fat and by failing to let consumers know — an omission that misleads the public assuming the items are safe."

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