SEATTLE - Starbucks Corp. is cutting trans fats from the doughnuts, muffins and other treats in half of its U.S. stores, and plans to eventually drop the artery-clogging fats from company-operated coffeehouses across the country.
The world's largest specialty coffee retailer has been working to eliminate trans fats from its food menu for about two years, spokesman Brandon Borrman said Tuesday.
"This is just something we have been working on, and our focus has always been on providing our customers with healthy and nutritious food options," Borrman said.
Trans fats, listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, are believed to be harmful because they wreak havoc on cholesterol levels.
Standalone Starbucks stores in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore. will have zero trans fats in their food as of Wednesday, Borrman said.
Getting the other half of U.S. stores to follow suit will take some time, as the company adjusts recipes with regional bakers and food suppliers.
However, Starbucks already had quietly replaced the fats in its nationally distributed food products, such as its seasonal pumpkin muffins and gingerbread, Borrman said.
In December, New York became the first American city to ban artificial trans fats in restaurants and eateries. With some exceptions, restaurants will be barred from using spreads and frying oils containing artificial trans fats by July 1.
All other foods in the city, including doughnuts, cookies and pies that use partially hydrogenated vegetable oil for texture, will have to be trans-fat-free by July 2008.
New York's ban didn't play a part in Starbucks' switch, Borrman said.
Starbucks has about 5,600 company-owned coffeehouses in the U.S. Other retail sites, such as kiosks in airports and grocery stores, are licensed by the company but operated by other businesses.
Starbucks posted net fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $117.3 million in October, on revenue of $2 billion.