What’s the Worst Restaurant Meal You Can Eat?

By: Sally Wadyka, MSN healthy living
By: Sally Wadyka, MSN healthy living

When it comes to dubious honors, “Worst Restaurant Meal in America” certainly ranks up there. And that is the title just bestowed on Long John Silver’s Big Catch meal -- a deep-fried extravaganza that features fish, onion rings and hushpuppies.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nonprofit health advocacy group, released this news today in the hopes of shaming the restaurant chain into changing their unhealthy ways. Lab tests of Long John Silver’s Big Catch revealed some incredibly shocking numbers. The fried fish feast packs an almost unbelievable 33 grams of trans fat, another 19 grams of saturated fat, and a whopping 3,700 milligrams of sodium.

To put those numbers in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily intake of trans fat to about two grams a day; less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat; and 2,300 mg of sodium should be your absolute daily max.

And while the amounts of saturated fat and sodium are dangerously high, they aren’t without precedent in other, similar restaurant offerings. But what really shocked the researchers at CSPI was the amount of heart-stopping trans fat this chain still used -- most of it coming from frying their food in industrially produced partially hydrogenated oil. Thanks in part to educational efforts by CSPI on the health hazards of partially hydrogenated oil (and a lawsuit against KFC in 2006), most major restaurant chains have stopped using it -- and consequently their meals now contain little to no trans fats.

But what’s even worst that these dismal nutritional statistics is the fact that Long John Silver’s is lying about them. CSPI’s lab tests found more trans fat in both the onion rings and hushpuppies than the restaurant cops to on their website. The Big Catch meal is described on packaging as “lean” (which fish is, but not when enveloped in batter and artery-clogging grease). They also claim that the meal contains a seven to eight-ounce piece of 100 percent haddock -- but when the CSPI testers pulled off the breading, they found that it was more like 60 percent fish and 40 percent batter and grease. As Michael Jacobson, CSPI’s executive director, put it: “Nutrition aside, that’s just plain piracy.”

After identifying this heart-attack-on-a-plate, the CSPI today formally notified the CEO of Long John Silver’s that they will sue them if they continue to use partially hydrogenated oils and misrepresent what’s really in their meals. If KFC can deep-fry their chicken without adding any trans fats, what excuse does Long John Silver’s really have?


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