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Campaign Against Trans Fat Gaining Fruit in US

The campaign started by health authorities in the US nearly three years ago is winning more and more adherents. The Applebees International is the latest to join the trans fat free club.

It has announced that it has stopped using oil made of the dangerous fat in its more than 1,800 domestic restaurants.

Trans fat is made when hydrogen is added to liquid cooking oils to harden them for baking or a longer shelf-life. The process turns them into "partially hydrogenated oils", which may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other ailments.

Commercial vegetable oils used by restaurants for cooking, frying, and baking often contain trans fat, as do many margarines, shortening, and pre-fried foods, baked goods and snack foods.

Applebees is now using a blend of two soybean oils it claims do not compromise the taste, texture or quality of its food.

"After extensive testing with our guests, we found that our foods cooked in zero trans fat oil still have the great taste out guests have come to expect from Applebee's," said Dave Goebel, the company's chief executive officer, in a statement. "In some cases, the oil even enhances the flavor of the menu item."

In the next few weeks, the company plans to replace the pan and grill oil it uses to cook fish and shrimp with a trans fat-free version and is working with suppliers to remove trans fat from processed foods, such as some desserts and appetizers, Applebee's said.

The changes are expected to be cost-neutral and don't yet affect Applebee's locations outside the U.S., said company spokeswoman Laura Tigges.

Many other restaurants, as well as coffee retailer Starbucks Corp., are ridding themselves of trans fat oils. Yum Brands' chains KFC and Taco Bell recently switched to a trans-fat free oil. Burger King Corp. is testing cooking oils without trans fat, with plans to roll out a new oil by late next
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