updated 7/9/2004 9:00:10 AM ET 2004-07-09T13:00:10

McDonald’s Corp. was hit with a lawsuit Thursday accusing the fast-food giant of failing to reduce fat in the cooking oil used in its french fries and other foods.

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Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s pledged in September 2002 to switch to a lower-fat oil by February, 2003.

The suit, filed in federal court on behalf of a California woman, says McDonald’s has not disclosed “to the public in an effective manner that it had not switched to a new, healthier cooking oil.”

The restaurant chain had announced it planned to cut the trans fat levels in its fried foods. But McDonald’s has delayed the plan, citing concerns of product quality and customer satisfaction.

McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa Howard said the company could not comment on the complaint’s specific allegations because it had not seen the lawsuit.

Howard said McDonald’s has reduced trans fatty acid levels in its McNuggets and other chicken dishes.

“In February 2003, we made a broad public statement that the change in our cooking oil was taking longer than anticipated and would be delayed,” she said. “We continue to work hard to achieve our ambitious goals for reduction of TFAs in our cooking oil.”

Heart-clogging trans fat is made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil — a process called hydrogenation.

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