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KFC to Be Trans Fats Free by April 2007

KFC said it is phasing out trans fats in cooking its Original Recipe and Extra Crispy fried chicken, Potato Wedges and other menu items. Trans fats are believed to raise consumer cholesterol levels.

The restaurant chain said Monday it will start using zero trans fat soybean oil systemwide with the rollout expected to be completed by April 2007. KFC said many of its approximately 5,500 restaurants already have switched to low linolenic soybean oil, replacing partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

Crispy Strips, Wings, Boneless Wings, Buffalo and Crispy Snacker Sandwiches, Popcorn Chicken and Twisters also are part of the menu change.

The announcement came just ahead of a New York City Board of Health public hearing on a plan to make New York the first U.S. city to ban restaurants from serving food containing artificial trans fats.

Artificial trans fat is so common that the average American eats 4.7 pounds of it a year, according to the Food and Drug Administration. But health officials say trans fat belongs in the same category as food spoiled by poor refrigeration or rodent droppings.

The switch was applauded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which sued the Louisville, Ky.-based KFC in June over the trans fat content of its chicken.

KFC is part of Yum Brands Inc. (YUM), which also owns the Taco Bell and Pizza Hut chains.