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Group names 'Worst Restaurant Meal in America'

Tuesday - 7/2/2013, 3:28pm  ET

bigcatch.jpg
The ''Big Catch,'' at Long John Silver's has 3,700 mg of sodium, 19 grams of saturated fat and 33 grams of artificial transfat. (Courtesy CSPI.org)

Worst restaurant meal in America

Center for Science in the Public Interest Executive Director Michael Jacobson

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WASHINGTON - The food police are at it again. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has named what it calls "The Worst Restaurant Meal in America."

And it is the "Big Catch" with onion rings from Long John Silver's. The "Big Catch" meal includes battered and fried haddock and sides of onion rings and hush puppies.

Calling it an artery clogger and "quite possibly the most harmful meal being consumed anywhere in the country," CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson and the consumer group base the ranking on excessive levels of saturated fat, sodium and transfat.

The "Big Catch" has 3,700 mg of sodium, 19 grams of saturated fat and 33 grams of artificial transfat.

In a statement, Long John Silver's defended the meal and said the temporary special includes a wild-caught whitefish that is three times the size of a typical uncooked whitefish served at its restaurants.

Long John Silver's also said that customers don't have to pair the fish with hushpuppies or onion rings but can choose among corn, green beans, rice, cole slaw or fries.

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

The the American Heart Association recommends people consume less than 2 grams of trans fats a day.

The "Big Catch" with 19 grams of saturated fat exceeds the 16 gram daily maximum recommended by the American Heart Association.

Transfat is recognized as particularly unhealthy because it raises "bad" (LDL) cholesterol and lowers "good" (HDL) cholesterol levels according to the Mayo Clinic.

For perspective on transfat levels in the "Big Catch" meal, WEBmd notes butter has 0.3 grams of transfat per tablespoon and there are eight tablespoons in a stick of butter.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest says an easy way to cut transfats is to use healthier canola oil, which Long John Silver does use by law in its California locations. The Center has sent a warning letter to Long John Silver's threatening to sue unless it discontinues use of transfat.

McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King are among national food chains that already have limited transfat use to near zero.

Long Johns Silver's has about a dozen locations in the Metro D.C. area.

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