updated 10/30/2006 8:31:30 AM ET 2006-10-30T13:31:30

KFC, a unit of Yum Brands Inc., on Monday said it will switch to a cooking oil with no trans fat in all its U.S. fried-chicken restaurants by April 2007.

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Yum Brands joins hamburger chain Wendy’s International Inc. in a move to cut its use of the artery clogging oil at a time when fast-food restaurants have come under criticism that their food contributes to obesity.

McDonald’s Corp. promised in 2002 to reduce trans fats in some of its products. While the chain has introduced healthier foods — such as apple and walnut salads — it has yet to convert its oils entirely, saying that it has not found an alternative that works as well.

Yum said it would start using low linolenic soybean oil, a zero trans-fat cooking oil. The change will take effect in all 5,500 U.S. restaurants following a two-year trial to identify cooking oils with the same characteristics as the trans fats.

Once the transition is complete, KFC’s most popular signature products, including Original Recipe and Extra Crispy chicken, will contain zero grams of trans fat. Other products will include Crispy Strips, Wings, Boneless Wings, Honey BBQ, Buffalo and Crispy Snacker Sandwiches, Popcorn Chicken, Twisters and Potato Wedges.

Trans fat increases the low-density lipoprotein, or the so-called bad cholesterol, content of food. Starting Jan. 1, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made it mandatory for all food products to list their trans-fat content.

Shares of Yum brands closed at $58.96 on Friday. The stock has climbed 25 percent so far this year.

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