Wendy’s Dropped Trans Fat in Cooking (A Brief History of How Trans Fat Ban Took Place)

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

By now, trans fat is no longer allowed in our food system. This took place in a span of 15 years.

Wendy’s was indeed the first fast food chain to make a complete switch to trans-fat free cooking oil in their restaurants. On August 24, 2006, Wendy’s made the announcement to switch from using partially-hydrogenated oil to a new soy and corn oil blend. With this new oil blend, Wendy’s not only offers zero grams of trans fat, but also a significant reduction in saturated fat. Reduction in trans fat and saturated fat is a major diet change one can take in prevention of heart disease.

2006: Started by a Lawsuit filed by CSPI Against KFC

Once upon a time, one of the major sources of trans fat in the North American diet came from fried foods from the fast food chains. In mid-June 2006, KFC was sued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) over their extensive use of frying oil containing trans fat. CSPI claimed that a three-piece meal at KFC contains a startling 15 grams of trans fat. Trans fat raises bad LDL cholesterol and lowers good HDL cholesterol. Research shows that eating just five grams a day raises the risk of heart disease by 25 percent.

2003: Packaged Food Labeling Law Started First

Indeed, food manufacturers made a healthy move to remove trans fat in their food production earlier than Wendy’s. That’s because in Jan 2006, the FDA started to require food manufacturers to list “Trans Fat” on the Nutrition Facts table (announced in 2003). Frito-Lay was the first successfully eliminated trans fat in all their snack chips.

Both AHA and the City of New York Made a Move

In June 2006, a new recommendation made by American Heart Association is to limit trans fat to less than one percent of total calories. For an average adult consuming a 2,000 kcal diet, that means no more than two grams of trans fat a day!

Beginning July 1, 2007, food service establishments in New York City were not allowed to use partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortenings, or margarines for frying, pan-frying (sautéing), grilling, or as a spread unless their product labels or other documents from the manufacturer showed that these ingredients contained less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. 

2015: Final Regulation of the Trans Fat Ban

On 7 November 2013, the FDA issued a preliminary determination that trans fats are not “generally recognized as safe”, reclassifying trans fats as a food additive. The ruling was officially enacted on 16 June 2015, requiring that within three years, by 18 June 2018 no food prepared in the United States would be allowed to include trans fats, unless approved by the FDA.


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