Trans Fat or Not, Fried Chicken Still Popular

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Trans Fat or Not, Fried Chicken Still Popular

Americans' appetite for fried chicken continues to grow despite the number of reports about how potentially dangerous trans fatty acids are to their health.

While consumers with greater awareness of trans fats say they want to eat less of them at restaurants, there is no sign that those intentions are being carried out.

In fact, sales of a number of the restaurant foods containing trans fats are growing, such as fried chicken sandwiches (up 12 percent), crackers (up 10 percent) and cookies (up 7 percent). And, although many restaurants have introduced new products under different names, Americans still ate a lot more fried chicken last year (up 17 percent), according to The NPD Group.

New research by the consumer and retail information company reveals consumers have a high awareness of trans fats. Despite this, they've not changed their behavior when it comes to the foods they eat at restaurants. They also remain unclear about which foods contain trans fats and whether restaurant foods contain more than foods at home.

In a recent NPD survey, consumers were asked how aware and concerned they were about the presence of trans fats in their food. Among adults age 18 and older, overall awareness of trans fat was 94 percent and overall concern was 73 percent. Women and baby boomers are most concerned. Although awareness and concern levels are high, many people still do not understand the basics of trans fats in foods.

Most consumers believe french fries and other fried foods are the primary culprits. Consumers are less aware of the trans fat content in baked goods, salty snacks, donuts, burgers and ice cream, which also contain significant amounts. Of those people aware of trans fat, the overwhelming majority (65 percent) believed that restaurant food was more likely to contain trans fats than the food eaten at home.

"One might conclude that the restaurant industry is at a tipping point," said Bonnie Riggs, Foodservice Industry Expert, The NPD Group. She adds, "If public pressure requires restaurant operators to make nutritional information easily accessible, it could impact consumer purchasing of foods high in trans fats."