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McDonald's not lovin' switch from trans fats

McDonald's Corp. said eliminating trans fats hurts the taste and texture of its french fries, slowing its switch to healthier cooking oil.

McDonald's has been unable to replicate "the taste and mouth feel that people love about" its fries when it removes trans fats, Cathy Kapica, the company's director of global nutrition, said Monday. "It is a lot harder to do than we originally thought."

Earlier this month, McDonald's added to its Web site the disclaimer its fries contain "remnants of wheat and dairy ingredients" that can possibly cause allergic reactions in some people. The company's disclosure that the fries include "natural flavoring" made partly from extracts of wheat and dairy products differs from its previous description of its fries as free of those ingredients.

McDonald's switched to vegetable fry oil in 1990 from beef tallow, which contains saturated fat that can cause obesity and heart disease. Trans-fatty acids in vegetable oils raise blood levels of cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.

The cooking oil used by McDonald's since 2002 reduced trans fatty acids in french fries by 48 percent and saturated fat by 16 percent, the company said in a September 2002 statement.

Wal-Mart to focus on Web site improvements

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, plans to improve the design of its Web site and expand the selection of home goods and electronics after sales rose 40 percent last year.

The site will add interactive features and larger, more detailed pictures to improve the shopping experience, Walmart.com president Carter Cast said Friday. It will also offer more apparel and items for infants and toddlers, he said. Wal-Mart is focusing on the Web as sales growth at U.S. stores slows and it's seeking to attract more upscale shoppers. The retailer also sees the Web as a growth area because only a fraction of its customers who shop online do so at Walmart.com.

Other chatter

CHINESE-LANGUAGE SITE: Time Warner Inc.'s AOL said it started a test version of its AOL.com Web site to attract the 2-million people in the United States who speak Chinese. The Chinese-language site, http://aol.com/chinese, began Monday and offers free e-mail, news, Web search, full-length movies and episodes of television shows from China, AOL said Monday.

Information from Bloomberg News was used in this report.

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