Long John Silver Worst Meal In America
July 2, 2013

Long John Silver’s ‘Big Catch’ Called “Worst Restaurant Meal In America”

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

While most fishermen are admired for reeling in the big catch, restaurant chain Long John Silver's is under scrutiny for its new menu item: Wild-Caught Haddock. The lobbying group Center for Science in the Public Interest calls the chain's "Big Catch" menu item the "worst restaurant meal in America."

The non-profit group conducted its own lab tests that revealed Long John Silver's Big Catch meal - which includes a piece of fried haddock, hushpuppies and onion rings - packs 33 grams of trans fat, 19 grams of saturated fat and nearly 3,700 milligrams of sodium. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states the "Recommended Adequate Intake Level" for daily sodium is about 1,500 milligrams and that the "Tolerable Upper Intake Level" is about 2,300 milligrams, far below the sodium content found in the Big Catch meal.

Long John's Silver's has the Big Catch Basket on its menu for a limited time only, however. Current advertisements say the piece of haddock is three-times bigger than comparable menu items.

The Big Catch meal from Long John's Silver's isn't the highest meal out there in terms of calories, but it has earned the "worst meal" rating from the group for its high amount of trans fats. The full meal, not the battered and fried haddock alone, earned the meal its egregious score.

"All fish is naturally trans-fat free and contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The Big Catch's haddock, in particular, has little saturated fat. So the meal's high amounts of trans fats, saturated fat and sodium come from its battering and side dishes," according to PopSci.

The piece of fish contributes to the rating. The Big Catch fish piece had 4.5 ounces of fish and three ounces of batter. Combined, the two add up to Long John Silver's claim of "seven ounces to eight ounces of 100 percent premium haddock," according to Long John Silver's chief marketing officer Charles St. Clair, in a corporate statement.

The onion rings account for the lion's share of the negative health claims. The restaurant brochure says a single serving contains seven grams of trans fat. However, the watchdog group claims they found 19.5 grams in its tests.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest wants Long John Silver's to stop using trans fat-producing oil. The group has urged the FDA to revoke its approval of trans fat-containing, partially hydrogenated cooking oils which have been found to raise the risk of heart disease.

"It's outrageous that Long John Silver's foods are still loaded with artificial trans fat and that the FDA still permits it in foods," Walter Willet told Reuters. Willet is chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest published an open letter to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, calling for the use of trans fats to be restricted. Trans fats currently have a GRAS rating, meaning "Generally Recognized As Safe."