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Doctor, consumer watchdog group sue KFC over cooking oil

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A doctor and a consumer group have sued KFC in an effort to stop the chicken chain from cooking with high-fat partially hydrogenated oil.

Dr. Arthur Hoyte, a retired physician from Rockville, Md., and the Center for Science in the Public Interest want a judge to order Kentucky Fried Chicken to use other types of cooking oils or make sure customers know about trans fat content immediately before they make a purchase, reported the Associated Press.

KFC spokesperson Laurie Schalow called the lawsuit frivolous and [image-nocss] without merit and said the company intends to vigorously defend its position. She said KFC is looking at using other types of oil for cooking, but it is committed to maintaining KFC's unique taste and flavor.

KFC provides nutrition and fat information to consumers online and in restaurants, said Schalow. We have for a very long time, she said.

Michael Jacobsen, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said Louisville, Ky.-based KFC parent company Yum Brands Inc. knows that other, healthier cooking products are available. KFC knows this, yet it recklessly puts its customers at risk of a Kentucky Fried Coronary, Jacobsen said.

Hoyte said he is suing to force KFC to change its cooking practices for my son and others' kids, so they may have a healthier, happier, trans-fat-free future. If I had known that KFC uses an unnatural frying oil, and that their food was so high in trans fat, I would have reconsidered my choices.

Hoyte and the consumer group are seeking class-action status for the lawsuit and are asking a judge to let Hoyte represent anyone who ate at a Washington, D.C.-area KFC in 2004 and 2005. Along with stopping KFC from using oil with trans fats, they are asking for a variety of economic damages.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) says trans fat raises bad cholesterol. The government agency this year started requiring food labels to list trans fats.

The lawsuit is the second time in the last three years that KFC and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have crossed paths. KFC settled a complaint filed by the group with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2004 over ads claiming its fried chicken was compatible with then-popular low-carb diets. Under the settlement, KFC also was barred from running advertisements saying that eating its food is healthier than eating another food unless it can back the claims up scientifically.

Click here to read the Center for Science in the Public Interest's press release.