Fast food is a fact of travel life. When you're on the road, a McRestaurant is often the only readily available option.
Aside from the quality issue raised by fast food's ubiquity, there's the health issue: a Big Mac, chocolate shake, and fries is a sure road to obesity and heart disease. Most chains, preferring to feed rather than kill off their customers, now offer at least a token selection of low-fat, low-calorie, low-sodium items.
Long John Silver's, which bills itself as "America's largest quick-serve seafood chain," apparently operates from a different playbook. The restaurant's Big Catch special—"a wild-caught Haddock three times the size in weight of their signature whitefish"—has been deemed the "worst restaurant meal in America" by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
According to CSPI's statement:
Laboratory tests released today by the Center for Science in the Public Interest show that Long John Silver's Big Catch meal, when comprised of fried fish, Hushpuppies, and Onion Rings, has an astonishing 33 grams of trans fat—the most powerful promoter of heart disease in the food supply. On top of that, the meal has another 19 grams of saturated fat, which also promotes heart disease, and nearly 3,700 milligrams of sodium, which promotes high blood pressure and stroke.
Elsewhere, the organization calls the Big Catch a heart attack on a hook and America's deadliest catch.
Long John Silver's is unrepentant, responding to CSPI as follows:
Long John Silver's Big Catch is 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 hushpuppies. The Big Catch is a wild-caught whitefish three times the size in weight of our normal uncooked whitefish. The Big Catch basket meal is offered at $4.99 and includes a choice of sides and delicious hushpuppies. Long John Silver's offers a variety of meal choices including baked fish and shrimp that can satisfy almost every diner's dietary choices. We stand behind our published food data and will review any requests from CSPI that raise questions about our data.
As I see it, CSPI did indeed raise questions about the company's data, which Long John Silver's so far has failed to address.
In the meantime, McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwich, with 390 calories, 590 mgs. of sodium, and no trans fat, is looking like a pleasure with a lot less saturated fat (and guilt).
Reader Reality Check
Do you try to keep your on-the-road meals heart healthy, or do you throw dietary restraint to the wind when traveling?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.
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