Burger King faces Trans Fat Lawsuit
Written by Gloria Tsang, RD
Published May 2007
Burger King is the only large-scale fast food restaurant chain yet to commit to removing trans fats from its menu. To "accelerate the pace" of Burger King’s efforts to replace artificial trans fat with healthier oils, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) launched a lawsuit against Burger King on May 16.
What’s the connection between fast food and trans fat?
Commercially fried foods from fast food chains are a huge source of trans fat intake in the North American diet. But, feeling the pressure to make more healthy options available on their menus, a number of fast food chains have committed to removing all trans fats from the products they serve.
Beginning in mid-2006, Wendy's, McDonald's, KFC, and Starbucks have all announced plans and timelines for removing trans fat from their products. According to CSPI, Burger King is the only major chain not making a move to get rid of artery-clogging fats nationwide (although they are complying with the trans fat bans in New York and Philadelphia.)
Trans fat raises bad LDL cholesterol and lowers good HDL cholesterol. Research shows that eating just 5 grams a day raises the risk of heart disease by 25 percent. In June 2006, the American Heart Association recommended that Americans should limit trans fat to less than one percent of total calories. For an average adult consuming a 2,000 calorie/day diet, that means no more than two grams of trans fat a day!
That’s why CSPI, is concerned about the number of Burger King menu items that contain alarming levels of trans fat. A regular-size order of Chicken Tenders with a large order of french fries has 8 grams of trans fat. A sausage biscuit with a large order of hash browns has an whopping 18 grams of trans fat 9 times more than the Heart Association's maximum recommended intake!
While most fast food chains and food manufacturers are making moves to eliminate trans fat from their menus, you can’t rely on them to deal with this diet problem for you. To effectively reduce trans fat and saturated fat intake in your diet, here are some steps you can take for all of your meals:
- Use liquid vegetable cooking oil in home cooking.
- Use cooking methods with little or no oil; limit deep frying at home.
- Choose lean meats and low-fat dairy products.
- When dining out, order dishes prepared with little oil or sauce.
- Always read the Nutrition Facts label when comparing products; check out information about fat content, saturated fats, and trans fat in particular.
- Check the ingredient list, and avoid products with ingredients such as hydrogenated oil (high in trans fat) and well as coconut or palm oil (high in saturated fats).