News Brief

Burger King Faces Lawsuit Over Trans Fats

Saying that it will defend itself vigorously in the arena of public opinion, Burger King yesterday responded to a lawsuit filed against it over the use of oil with trans fats by saying it has no merit.

Keva Silversmith, vice president of communications for the fast-food giant, said Burger King may be trans fat-free by the end of the year, and if so, ahead of its own schedule by a year.

The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed the suit, asking a District of Columbia Superior Court judge to order the restaurant chain to stop using partially hydrogenated oil or to post prominent warning signs inside the eateries. CSPI has filed and/or threatened similar lawsuits against other fast-food enterprises, claiming credit at least in part for those companies' decisions to phase out trans fat oil.

Silversmith said Burger King is testing potential replacement oils in hundreds of locations in five major markets. If the oil blend is a success, he said, the trans fat-free rollout to 7,600 North American restaurants could take place by the end of the year.

On one point, BK and CSPI agree: the company is meeting requirements against using trans fats in New York, where there is a law against restaurants using them.

--Nina M. Lentini

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