Food giant Unilever is to remove hydrogenated oils across its entire soft spreads portfolio in the US.

The group said on Monday (27 July) that it plans to have no partially hydrogenated oils and no trans fats per serving by the second quarter of 2010.

The move follows a three-year research and development effort by the company, which began by removing the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil from I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, Brummel & Brown, Shedd's Spread Country Crock and Imperial soft spreads.

"We have been a global leader in the production and innovation of spreads for over 50 years," said John LeBoutillier, senior vice president and general manager for US Foods at Unilever. "The ultimate goal is to further reduce trans fats in the American diet, while maintaining lower levels of saturated fat than butter and many other soft spreads on the market."

Last December, Unilever launched a "Big Fat Truth" campaign to educate consumers on the nutrition facts about vegetable oil-based spreads, how they fit into a healthy diet, and their benefits as a better nutrition option than butter.