Consumer group outs 'Worst Restaurant Meal in America'

Tue Jul 2, 2013 4:30pm EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) - Calories: 1,320. Trans fats: 33 grams. Sodium: 3,700 milligrams. All that pushed Long John Silver's "Big Catch" limited-time only fish platter to win the "Worst Restaurant Meal in America" distinction Tuesday by a U.S. nutrition advocacy group.

The artery-clogging trans fat tally alone is "astonishing" in the limited-time only dish of fried fish, cornmeal hush puppies and onion rings, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The American Heart Association's limit is less than 2 grams daily and trans fat has been banned by some cities and states and abandoned by many U.S. food makers.

CSPI, a consumer-focused nonprofit group that promotes healthier eating, wants the chain to stop using the unhealthy oil and is urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to revoke its approval of trans fat-containing partially hydrogenated cooking oils that raise the risk of heart disease.

CSPI said it planned to pursue legal action if Long John Silver's continues to use the unhealthy cooking oil.

"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 Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a statement.

CSPI also said Long John Silver's nutrition disclosures understate the amount of trans fat and sodium in its onion rings and hush puppies.

"We stand behind our published food data and will review any requests from CSPI that raise questions about our data," Gary Gerdemann, a spokesman for Long John Silver's, said in an email.

Gerdemann did not address the trans fat issue.   Continued...