Court Rebuffs Burger King in Trans Fat Case

CSPI's Lawsuit to be Heard in D.C. Superior Court


WASHINGTON—Lawyers for Burger King failed to have a lawsuit over the company’s use of artificial trans fat dismissed. The Center for Science in the Public Interest sued the chain in May 2007 because it is the only one of the three top burger chains not to promise to phase out its use of partially hydrogenated frying oil. CSPI sued in Superior Court for the District of Columbia, but Burger King transferred the case to a federal court and then asked for it to be dismissed, insisting, ironically, that CSPI’s claims did not belong in federal court.

On February 19, a federal judge rejected each of Burger King’s legal arguments and sent the case back to D.C. Superior Court—setting the stage for what CSPI hopes will be a trial that results in an injunction stopping the chain from using the discredited ingredient or, at the very least, requiring prominent signage warning of trans fat in BK’s fried foods.

“Burger King’s argument was similar to that of the kid who kills his parents and then asks for leniency because he’s an orphan—it transferred the case to a court where it did not belong, and then asked that court to dismiss the case,” said CSPI’s Litigation Director Stephen Gardner. “It is increasingly clear that the proper way for Burger King to make this case go away is to stop using oils with artificial trans fat in its deep-fryers.”

Wendy’s and McDonald’s are each phasing out their use of partially hydrogenated oil. KFC stopped using it for deep-frying in 2007 after CSPI sued the company, though it still uses it in biscuits and pot pies. Fried foods from Burger King are alarmingly high in trans fat, according to CSPI. A regular-size order of Chicken Tenders with a large order of French fries has 8 grams of trans—more than someone should consume in four days.

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