ATLANTA – Arby's Restaurant Group announced Tuesday its eateries will no longer serve french fries with trans fat and cut the artery-clogging oil from its other foods.
The Atlanta-based chain, which has more than 3,500 restaurants worldwide, has joined the fast-food race to cut the cooking oil from its products.
Earlier this month, Taco Bell announced it was cutting trans fat from its offerings. KFC has made the same kind of promise about its fried chicken and other products, and Wendy's made the switch to trans fat-free oil in August.
By May 1, 75 percent of Arby's menu items will contain less than half a gram of trans fat, said CEO Roland Smith.
"Clearly our customers have told us that the elimination of trans fat is something they would like us to consider," he said.
He said Arby's restaurants will no longer use the hydrogenated oils that contain trans fat and the chain's food suppliers will stop precooking its fries in oil with trans fat.
Several cities have also begun to consider banning the fats, which have been linked to heart disease.
New York City's health commission has proposed outlawing trans fat in the city's restaurants and Chicago's city council is considering a similar ban.
Nutritionist Samantha Heller at New York University's Medical Center said restaurants — particularly fast food eateries — use hydrogenated oils because they don't sour as quickly and increase the shelf life of foods. Trans fats are man-made and have only been used widely in food preparation since the 1950s, she said.
"It has taken several decades to see what their effect is on the human body," Heller said.
Trans fat lowers "good" cholesterol and raises "bad" cholesterol, and eating 5 grams a day can raise the risk of heart disease by 25 percent, research shows.