The Center for Science in the Public Interest announced – before lunch – on July 2 that laboratory tests show Long John Silver’s Big Catch is the worst restaurant meal in the United States.
The Big Catch meal included fried fish, hushpuppies and onion rings, delivering 33 grams of trans fat, the most powerful promoter of heart disease in the food supply, according to CSPI.
The meal contained 19 grams of saturated fat and nearly 3,700 milligrams of sodium, which promotes high blood pressure and stroke.
With 1,320 calories, the Big Catch isn’t the highest calorie meal offered at a fast food restaurant, but “when it comes to clogging arteries, CSPI says the Big Catch is by far the ‘Worst Restaurant Meal in America.’”
Most of the trans fat in the meal comes from industrially produced partially hydrogenated frying oil. The American Heart Association has said that people should limit themselves to about 2 grams of trans fat per day.
“Long John Silver’s Big Catch meal deserves to be buried 20,000 leagues under the sea,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “This company is taking perfectly healthy fish – and entombing it in a thick crust of batter and partially hydrogenated oil. The result? A heart attack on a hook. Instead of the Big Catch, I’d call it America’s Deadliest Catch.”
Many major fast-food chains have stopped using partially hydrogenated oil altogether, in response to bad publicity, lawsuits and local government restrictions on its use.
In 2006, before a CSPI lawsuit prompted KFC to stop using partially hydrogenated oil to fry its chicken, the worst meal on the KFC menu had 15 grams of trans fat – less than half the trans fat in the Big Catch with onion rings.
CSPI, providing a link to Long John Silver’s website, also claims the company overstates the amount of fish in the Big Catch and understates the amount of trans fat and sodium in the side orders.
“It turns out that when Long John Silver’s says 7-8 ounces of 100 percent haddock, it’s more like 60 percent haddock, and 40 percent batter and grease,” Jacobson said. “Nutrition aside, that’s just plain piracy.”
The CSPI notified the Food and Drug Administration of its findings and also notified Long John Silver’s of the potential for a lawsuit.