Fastfood firm McDonald’s has vowed to cut the level of trans fats in the cooking oils used by its European business to 2% by the middle of 2008.

The company plans to introduce a new cooking oil at more than 6,300 outlets across Europe, replacing its current rape and sunflower oils with a balance of high oleic rapeseed oil and high oleic sunflower oil.

It is also limiting the saturated fats in the oil to a maximum of 12%.

McDonald’s Europe will reduce trans fatty acids in French fries, fried chicken and fish products, fried pies and other promotional fried products. It said consumer research on the new oil blend confirms that there is no difference in taste.

It follows an announcement by Yum Brands unit Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) late last month, to use cooking oils with no trans fats at its 5,500 US restaurants by the end of next April.

The first countries to start using the new oil in the coming months will be Sweden, Norway and Finland, McDonald’s said.

McDonald’s European president Denis Hennequin said: “This TFA reduction is part of our strategy to continuously improve the quality of our products and offer balanced choices to our customers. McDonald’s Europe has been working since the early 90s with its suppliers to improve the nutritional values of our cooking oil and to ensure the availability of the products to meet our needs across Europe. 

“We only use products and ingredients that meet the highest standards of quality and safety.”