Heart Attack Food

The worst restaurant meal in America is a heart attack waiting to happen

The worst restaurant meal in America: A heart attack waiting to happen

Long John Silver's Big Catch fried fish with french fries and tator tots
Long John Silver's 'Big Catch' meal Long John Silver's/Facebook
Long John Silver's Big Catch fish compared to batter
Battered Haddock vs. Haddock Center for Science in the Public Interest
Long John Silver's Big Catch fried fish with french fries and tator tots
Long John Silver's Big Catch fish compared to batter

Would you be interested in 1,320 calories and a side order of two weeks worth of trans fat?

Out of all of the fast food chains and unhealthy choices available out there, it turns out no bad burger and fatty fries can measure up as the unhealthiest of them all. Instead, Long John Silver's self-dubbed Big Catch meal has been named the Worst Restaurant Meal in America by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

CSPI is a nonprofit organization that advocates for nutrition and health. And Long John Silver's is a popular fast-food restaurant known for its blue and yellow styled buildings. The name is borrowed from the classic novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, in which one of the main characters is a pirate named Long John Silver.

 "The result? A heart attack on a hook. Instead of the Big Catch, I'd call it America's Deadliest Catch." 

The Big Catch includes fried haddock, hushpuppies and a choice of a side from a variety of items like corn, green beans, rice, cole slaw, fries and onion rings. It is sold for $4.99.

Seafood is normally a high-protein food that is low in calories, total fat and saturated fat. It is also high in vitamins and has been proven to decrease the risk of heart attack, heart disease, and obesity. The American Heart Association has recommended that people eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week.

But not this type of fish.

"Long John Silver's Big Catch meal deserves to be buried 20,000 leagues under the sea," CPSI executive director Michael F. Jacobson said in a statement . "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."

In addition to the 1,320 calories, the meal has 19 grams of saturated fat, almost 3,700 milligrams of sodium and 33 grams of trans fat. The Big Catch has 16 times the amount of trans fat that the American Heart Association recommends — enough for two weeks. The excessive amount of trans fat comes from the oil that is used to fry the haddock. 

"It's the largest fish we have ever offered, weighing in at seven to eight ounces of 100 percent premium haddock caught in the icy waters of the North Atlantic," Long John Silver's executive Charles St. Clair said in the company's own press release

However, CSPI officials say that when they pulled off the batter, they discovered that the fish was actually 4.5 ounces and the fried dough was three ounces of trans fat. 

"Nutrition aside, that's just plain piracy," Jacobson said. In response, Long John Silver's fired back: "We stand behind our published food data and will review any requests from CSPI that raise questions about our data."

The word "lean" is used to describe the North Atlantic haddock in Big Catch meal advertising.

By law, the Long John Silver's outlets in California must limit artificial trans fat to half a gram per serving. California is doing it right by using canola oil in their deep fryers instead of the partially hydrogenated soybean oil. 

Long John Silver's CEO Mike Kern has been notified by CSPI 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. 

"It is extremely important to understand that the partially hydrogenated oil in Long John Silver's meals, other restaurant foods, and packaged foods are contributing to thousands of premature deaths annually," Jacobson wrote to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. "The FDA is failing its responsibility to the public by leaving that slow-killing ingredient in our food supply."

Maybe next time you want to eat at a Long John Silver's, you will think twice about reeling in a Big Catch.