Fried fish dish crowned most unhealthy meal in America (Update)

July 2, 2013 by Kerry Sheridan

A batter-laden fried fish dish packs two weeks worth of harmful trans fat in a single serving and was named worst restaurant meal in America Tuesday by a US consumer advocacy group.

The Big Catch meal, sold at the fast food chain Long John Silver's, contains 33 grams of trans fat and 3,700 milligrams of sodium, said the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

People should limit themselves to two grams of trans fat daily, according to the American Heart Association, and most people should eat 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, the Institute of Medicine says.

"Long John Silver's Big Catch meal deserves to be buried 20,000 leagues under the sea," CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said in a statement announcing the group's pick of worst restaurant meal in America.

"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."

The fish is battered and fried in partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and sold with onion rings and hush puppies, which are fried balls made of leftover batter drippings, cornmeal and onion.

Its total calorie count is low for a fast food meal—just 1,320, CSPI said.

But its artery-clogging trans fat is twice the level of the worst KFC dish, which had 15 grams of trans fat before a 2006 CSPI lawsuit led the chicken chain to stop using partially hydrogenated oil.

"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 Willett, nutrition department chair 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."

Long John Silver's introduced the "Big Catch" in May, describing it as "the largest fish we have ever offered, weighing in at 7-8 ounces of 100 percent premium Haddock caught in the icy waters of the North Atlantic."

But that claim did not stand up to the scrutiny of CSPI inspectors, who picked apart the breading from the fish and said they found "an average of about four and a half ounces of actual fish and almost three ounces of oil-soaked batter."

Long John Silver's, which calls itself the "largest quick service seafood restaurant in the world," responded to an AFP request for comment by describing the dish as "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 hush puppies," it said.

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

CSPI said it plans to sue the chain if it continues to use partially hydrogenated oil in its deep-fryers and if it continues to misrepresent the amount of fish in the meal and the nutrition information for the side items.

The group's researchers found that the meal's onion rings were advertised to contain seven grams of trans fat but actually contained 19.5 grams.

The threat to sue was described as "outrageous" by Baylen Linnekin, executive director of a Washington nonprofit called Keep Food Legal.

"I am very much in favor of groups like CSPI," said Linnekin, a lawyer whose membership group says it is devoted to "food freedom" and opposes bans.

"Where I tend to depart from their actions is when they threaten to sue," he told AFP.

"It is one thing to put out information and to rail against too many calories or trans fats or what-not. It is an entirely different thing to sue a company."

Explore further: New York's trans-fat ban is working: study

Related Stories

New York's trans-fat ban is working: study

July 16, 2012
(HealthDay) -- New York City's restriction on the use of trans fats in foods served at restaurants is helping Big Apple residents cut down on the unhealthy fat, a new study shows.

UQ cardiologist confirms coconut oil is not the good oil for heart health

May 27, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Research from The University of Queensland has reconfirmed oily fish or fish supplements are vital for heart health and debunked popular myths about coconut oil.

Time to reboot thinking on trans fats -- natural trans fats from dairy and beef are good

September 7, 2011
Not all trans fats are created equal and it's time for a change in nutrition labels in North America to reflect this, particularly when it comes to dairy and beef products.

Recommended for you

Protein regulates vitamin A metabolic pathways, prevents inflammation

October 23, 2017
A team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have discovered how uncontrolled vitamin A metabolism in the gut can cause harmful inflammation. The discovery links diet to inflammatory diseases, ...

One in 4 women and 1 in 6 men aged 65+ will be physically disabled in Europe by 2047

October 23, 2017
By 2047 one in four women and one in six men aged 65 and above is expected to be living with a physical disability that will severely restrict everyday activities, reveals an analysis published in the online journal BMJ Open.

New insights into controversial diagnosis of adolescent chronic fatigue

October 23, 2017
Crucial new research could provide some clarity around the controversy surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in adolescents. The research by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute published ...

Do boys really have a testosterone spurt at age four?

October 23, 2017
The idea that four-year-old boys have a spurt of testosterone is often used to explain challenging behaviour at this age.

Our laws don't do enough to protect our health data

October 23, 2017
Have you ever wondered why your computer often shows you ads that seem tailor-made for your interests? The answer is big data. By combing through extremely large datasets, analysts can reveal patterns in your behavior.

New prevention exercise programme to reduce rugby injuries

October 23, 2017
A new dynamic 20-minute exercise programme, performed by rugby players before training and pre-match, could dramatically reduce injuries in the sport according to a benchmark study published today (Sunday 22 October).

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.