In June 2004, the company's restaurants changed to a vegetable cooking oil blend, with a trans-fat level of less than 1 per cent making it virtually free of the fatty acids shown to raise the risk of heart disease. Now its suppliers will be partially cooking products in non-hydrogenated canola oil, reducing saturated fat levels, said the US chain. This latest change means a total reduction of more than 725 tonnes of saturated fat or an 83 per cent reduction in saturated fats compared to early 2004, it claims. The new oil blend is high in monounsaturated fat, and like other vegetable oils, is cholesterol-free. Mark Hawthorne, country manager for McDonald's New Zealand said: "We have been working with dietitians and our suppliers over the past few years to make further improvements to our oil. We believe that by making this change we have taken another significant step to further improve the nutritional profile of our menu." McDonald's continues to come under pressure from consumer groups fighting food producers for their alleged role in the current obesity epidemic. It recently introduced nutrition labelling and percentage daily intake (%DI) on packaging so customers can see what percentage of their total daily intake of energy and nutrients are in its products.
McDonald's New Zealand said yesterday that it would replace its frying oil with a blend that is lower in saturated fat and virtually trans-fat free.