The new American evil, trans fatty acids:
Colonel Sanders is putting America on a diet.
KFC, a unit of Yum! Brands, announced today that it will switch to a cooking oil with no trans fat in all its U.S. fried-chicken restaurants by April 2007.
KFC joins hamburger chain Wendy's International in a move to cut its use of the artery-clogging oil at a time when fast-food restaurants have come under criticism that their food contributes to obesity.
The Cheesecake Factory chain also made news this summer when it announced that it was testing a trans fat-free menu in its Los Angeles stores.
Fast-food chains are scrambling to avoid a legal and popular backlash against the cooking fat.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest sued KFC earlier this year, claiming the food chainís use of cooking oil containing trans fat is unhealthy. (CSPI said today that it applauded the KFC move.)
McDonald's paid $8.5 million last year to settle a lawsuit over artery-clogging trans fat in its cooking oils, agreeing to donate $7 million to the American Heart Association and spend an additional $1.5 million to inform the public of its trans-fat plans. Krispy Kreme's cautionary tale
Anyone who doubts the impact of diet fads on company performance can look at the history of one-time stock-market darling Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
The doughnut maker went public with much fanfare in 2000, but then watched its stock plunge 75% in 2004 amid a low-carb Atkins craze.
Krispy Kreme shares, which once traded as high as $39.74, were up almost 1% at $9.89 this morning.