CHICAGO — Healthy french fries might seem like an oxymoron, but McDonald’s said it is trying to make good on an almost 3-year-old promise by testing a healthier blend of oil for its signature fries at a small number of restaurants.
The company would not disclose the location or number of restaurants at which it is testing the cooking oil. A company spokesman said it is gauging customer feedback but wouldn’t say what the response has been.
“We’re continuing to test in a small number of restaurants,” McDonald’s spokesman Walt Riker said Monday. “It’s important for our customers and we’ll continue to test to get it right.”
McDonald’s in September 2002 vowed to switch to a new oil that would halve the level of harmful trans fatty acid in its fries. But it delayed those plans in February 2003, citing product quality and customer satisfaction as priorities.
Riker said the company has been testing a new frying process in a small number of stores ever since.
Trans fat is produced when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil — a process called hydrogenation. It raises the body’s level of artery clogging cholesterol.
The Oak Brook-based company already has reduced the amount of trans fat in its Chicken McNuggets, Crispy Chicken and McChicken sandwiches, Riker said. It also has been adding healthier menu items like a fruit and walnut salad in response to consumers’ changing eating habits.
Food and farm products conglomerate Cargill Inc. is a major supplier to McDonald’s for its cooking oil, but it declined to answer specific questions about its involvement in testing.
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