Four years ago, McDonald's voluntarily announced that it would cut artery-clogging trans fats, the ingredient listed as "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" that is used to cook french fries and many other products throughout the fast food industry. Fast-forward four years--add an $8.5 million legal settlement and the first legislative bans on trans fats--and the company has announced it again. This time McDonald's says it's not spin: "We can confirm that we've got the right oil. We're phasing it in," said a company spokesman of a new mix of canola, corn and soy oils. Like other fast food chains, McDonald's has a special incentive: New York City has banned trans fats in most fried food, effective in July, and other communities aren't far behind. Some restaurant chains, including KFC and Wendy's, had already announced their own phaseouts, but McDonald's told the Chicago Tribune that, until now, it hadn't been able to ensure that its fries would live up to consumer expectations. A Harvard University study estimates that trans fat-driven heart disease kills 30,000 people per year. Health advocates still offer a mixed verdict: ending trans fats commendably may help keep arteries healthier, but won't reduce calories or obesity, notes nutritionist Marion Nestle.
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