CKE sets Jan. as deadline for Carl's, Hardee's oil change

CARPINTERIA Calif. CKE Restaurants Inc.'s Carl's Jr. and Hardee's restaurants will switch to a trans-fat-free cooking oil by next January, officials announced Wednesday.

The company is switching to a 100-percent canola oil alternative that CKE officials say is also low in saturated fat and high in heart-healthy omega-9 monounsaturated fat.

"We have evaluated many zero-trans-fat cooking oil alternatives in an effort to offer our guests the ideal oil option from a health and nutrition standpoint, while, at the same time, not adversely affecting the taste and flavor of the premium-quality menu items that Carl's Jr. and Hardee's customers have come to know and love," said Andrew Puzder, CKE president and chief executive officer. "Our decision to move to a 100 percent canola oil satisfied both criteria."

The announcement continues the industry's changeover from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to frying mediums with zero grams of trans fat, a known contributor to cardiovascular disease. Burger King and McDonald's recently indicated that they will switch their oils to a version free of artificial trans fats before the end of 2008, and possibly much sooner.

As of the fourth quarter ending Jan. 29, CKE operated or franchised 1,087 Carl's Jr. and 1,906 Hardee's restaurants. CKE recently agreed to sell its 96-unit La Salsa Mexican Grill chain to the owner of Baja Fresh Mexican Grill.