US natural and organic food retailer Wild Oats Markets has announced that it has removed all products containing hydrogenated oils (trans fats) from the shelves of its 75 Wild Oats stores.

The company said it decided to make this move as a result of research indicating there are long-term health risks associated with the consumption of trans fats, including a direct link to heart disease. The move is also aimed at pre-empting the US Food and Drug Administration's 2006 deadline for food companies to label the amount of trans fats in their products.

Trans fats are created during a process called hydrogenation, which increases the shelf life of products. Trans fats are thought to cause significant lowering of HDL "good" cholesterol and a significant increase in LDL "bad" cholesterol.

Wild Oats Markets operates 101 natural foods stores in the US and Canada, under the Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, Henry's Marketplace, Sun Harvest and Capers Community Markets banners.