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Lawsuit dropped as Oreo looks to drop the fat

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11 billion Oreo cookies are eaten each year, according to the company's Web site.

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A lawyer has sued Kraft Foods Inc. seeking to ban Oreo cookies in California because they contain trans fat, an ingredient he calls inedible. KRON's Ross Palombo reports (May 13)
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SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- A lawsuit seeking to ban Kraft Foods from selling Oreos to children because the chocolate-cream cookies are allegedly unhealthy will be dropped, the San Francisco lawyer who filed the suit said Wednesday.

Stephen Joseph's suit alleged that Oreos are unhealthy because they contain trans fat, which the National Academy of Sciences has linked to heart disease.

Joseph said he will drop his lawsuit because he has learned that Kraft is working on ways to reduce trans fat in Oreos.

Kraft spokesman Michael Mudd confirmed the company has been working on ways to reduce trans fat in the cookie, including introducing a reduced fat version now on the market.

"This is not something that we've just started" in response to Joseph's lawsuit, he said.

"We're very pleased with Mr. Joseph's decision. We share his concern for public health, and we're doing our part," Mudd said.

Kraft boasts that people have eaten 450 billion Oreo cookies since they introduced the chocolate wafer sandwich cookies with a creamy filling in 1912.

Joseph aimed to force Kraft to stop using hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils to make the cookies.

He called Kraft's move to reduce trans fat in Oreos "a home run" in efforts to make the public more aware of the problem of trans fats in food products, as well as what he termed their "extremely negative effects" on human health.

Joseph said very few parents are aware that the partially hydrogenated soybean oil used as an ingredient in Oreos is a trans fat.

The ingredient is used in thousands and thousands of products. In an interview with CNN Monday, Joseph said, "I am probably full of hydrogenated fat because until two years ago I didn't know about it. I resent the fact that I have been eating that stuff all my life."

Hydrogenation adds hydrogen gas to vegetable oil, helping to solidify it into products such as margarine. Health experts say the process makes them as unhealthy as real butter, if not more so, as the hydrogenated fats act like cholesterol in the body. Trans fats are common in cookies and crackers and part of both the cookie and filling in Oreos.

Frito-Lay, part of PepsiCo Inc., announced last year it would eliminate trans fats from snacks such as Doritos. McDonald's Corp. also said it would make french fries with less trans fat.

In February, a federal court threw out a lawsuit against McDonald's that claimed its burgers and fries cause obesity.

The commissioner for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said the agency will soon require labeling information about trans fats in foods.



Reuters contributed to this report.

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