The Chinese part of the worldwide chicken empire KFC on Wednesday assured diners their chicken was fried in unhydrogenated palm oil. This follows a promise made by the company's US division to stop using artificial fats.
KFC Corp (China) said it cooks its fried chicken in the healthier natural oil which doesn't contain harmful trans fatty acids. However, they are found in the artificial cooking oils used by KFC in the US.
"We're very glad to hear that KFC (United States) has changed to frying oil without trans fatty acids," KFC (China) said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to the statement, "All KFC products meet the national food safety standard. KFC also has a special office for food safety to ensure customers' health."
Apart from promising the company's products met safety standards the statement also advised diners to adopt a balanced, diverse diet and to avoid overeating.
The Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has made no comment on KFC's cooking methods but has said it will look into the matter.
Business in Beijing's KFC restaurants appeared to continue as usual. "I only eat at KFC occasionally so I don't worry too much about its impact on my health," said a woman customer. "I think KFC, as a famous brand, will take measures to prevent harmful ingredients being used," she added.
The National Food Quality Supervision and Inspection Center has drawn up a national standard for trans fatty acids in food. It's been submitted to the Standardization Administration of China for approval.
An expert from the center was quoted by the Beijing News as saying trans fatty acids haven't yet been listed as a daily examination item for lack of a national standard. "Palm oil might also contain traces of trans fatty acids but not to the extent that can damage health," the expert said.
In recent weeks KFC outlets in New York and Chicago have started cooking their chicken in new oil which has less fatty acids than the artificial oil they previously used. This follows claims their food increases the risk of heart disease.
Trans fatty acids, also called trans fats, are produced in the process of hydrogenation of plant oils. According to the US Food and Drug Administration eating trans fats raises low-density lipoprotein levels--so-called bad cholesterol--and increases the risk of coronary heart disease.
(China Daily November 2, 2006)