Long John Silver's Big Catch meal has been labelled the worst in America for fat and salt.
Long John Silver's Big Catch meal has been labelled the worst in America for fat and salt.

Big Catch meal labelled the worst health dish in America

A FRIED seafood fast food dish has been labelled the 'Worst Restaurant Meal in America' with a staggering 33 grams of trans fat.

On top of that it has another 19 grams of saturated fat.

Laboratory tests released by the Center for Science in the Public Interest show that Long John Silver's Big Catch meal, of fried fish, hushpuppies (fried cornbread balls), and onion rings, also has nearly 3,700 milligrams of sodium, which promoting high blood pressure and stroke.

What most startled CSPI researchers was the trans fat in the Big Catch meal, all of which comes from industrially produced partially hydrogenated frying oil.

The American Heart Association recommends that people limit themselves to about two grams of trans fat per day.

Long John Silver's Big Catch meal with onion rings has 16 times as much trans fat as the heart association recommends - more than two weeks' worth.

"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."

Most major 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.

"Trans fat from partially hydrogenated oil is a uniquely damaging substance that raises your bad cholesterol, lowers your good cholesterol, and harms the cells that line your blood vessels," said Walter C. Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health.

"It might have been defensible to use hydrogenated oil in the 1980s, before trans fat's harmfulness was discovered, but no longer. It is outrageous that Long John Silver's foods are still loaded with artificial trans fat and that the FDA still permits it in foods."

CSPI charged that Long John Silver's website greatly overstates the amount of actual fish in the Big Catch meal, and greatly understates the amounts of trans fat and sodium in the side orders.

"It's the largest fish we have ever offered, weighing in at 7 ounces to 8 ounces of 100-percent premium haddock caught in the icy waters of the North Atlantic," Long John Silver's executive Charles St. Clair stated in a press release.

"It turns out that when Long John Silver's says 7 to 8 ounces of 100 percent haddock, it's more like 60 percent haddock, and 40 percent batter and grease," Jacobson said.

CSPI formally notified Long John Silver's CEO Mike Kern that the chain will be sued if it continues to use partially hydrogenated oil in its deep fryers and if it continues to misrepresent both the amount of fish in the meal and the nutrition information for the side items.

In a statement on its website, Long John Silver said its Big Catch was a limited time only special that delivers tremendous value to value hungry consumers.

"The Big Catch can be paired with a variety of side items including corn, green beans, rice, cole slaw, fries, onion rings and hushpuppies.

"The Big Catch is a wild-caught whitefish three times the size in weight of our normal uncooked whitefish. The Big Catch basket meal is offered at $4.99 and includes a choice of sides and delicious hushpuppies.

"We stand behind our published food data and will review any requests from CSPI that raise questions about our data.''

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