KFC faces legal action over oil used in cooking

KFC is facing legal action in America over its use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil containing trans fats.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is bringing the case against the fast-food giant to try and force it to use healthier oils. Trans fats have no nutritional benefits and have been shown to raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease, it said.

Michael Jacobsen, director of the CSPI, said using the oils is reckless and puts customers at risk of "Kentucky Fried Coronary".

KFC pointed out that they sell salad and vegetables, as well as fatty fried food and that, although it is considering changing the oil, it has to consider preserving the taste of "Colonel Sanders' original recipe". A KFC spokeswoman in the US called the case "frivolous".

In recent years many manufacturers have made an effort to reduce trans fats in their products because of the well-publicised health risks.

Despite the US situation, KFC is unlikely to find itself under fire in the UK market. A spokesperson for the UK's Food Standards Agency said trans fats are actually less of a problem than saturated fat.

Britons eat considerably less than the recommended maximum of 2% total energy, or 5g per day, but eat far more saturated fat than recommended - 13.4% of total energy, instead of the 11% healthy maximum.

Trans fats have a similar effect to saturated fat on blood cholesterol - they are both unhealthy. There is evidence suggesting trans fats are worse, but the FSA's advice is that people should concentrate on reducing the amount of fat in their diet overall.