WASHINGTON, July 31, 2017 - For the past 10 years, The Cheesecake Factory has taken home at least one of the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Xtreme Eating Awards. This year is no different as the California-based restaurant chain earned not one, but two of the “dishonors.”
First up is the Pasta Napoletana dish, boasting 2,310 calories, well over the recommended 2,000 intake for an entire day. You get a heap of pasta piled high with Italian sausage, pepperoni, meatballs, and bacon. Just like eating a Pizza Hut Meat Lover’s Personal Pan Pizza, topped with three cups of pasta, CSPI says. The chain also won the “Worst Cocktail Award” for its alcoholic milkshake called the Flying Gorilla featuring banana and chocolate liqueurs. The drink contains 950 calories and is the nutritional equivalent to a 20-ounce Budweiser, CSPI says. And it has more than the daily intake of added sugar and saturated fat.
But The Cheesecake Factory isn’t alone. Six other chains, including IHOP, Chili’s, Texas Roadhouse, Dave & Buster’s, and Uno Pizzeria and Grill, were recognized for their especially unhealthy dishes.
“These meals are extreme,” CSPI Senior Nutritionist Lindsay Moyer said in a release. “But even the typical dishes served at restaurants are a threat to Americans’ health because they increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more.”
Take IHOP’s Cheeseburger Omelet for example. Dubbed this year’s “Least Original Breakfast,” the meal tips the scales at 1,990 calories and contains more than two days’ worth of saturated fat and sodium. The meaty dish comes with a side of three buttermilk pancakes, comparable to eating four McDonald’s Sausage Egg McMuffins drizzled with syrup.
IHOP said it was misleading for CSPI to single out the highest meal combinations without informing people about the wide range of choices the chain offers, including the ability to customize any item to meet a wide variety of dietary needs. "Our commitment is go offer guests flavorful, inventive all-breakfast dishes that can be enjoyed as they see fit."
Domino's, meanwhile, took home a brand-new award, “Xtreme Putting Profits Before Public Health,” labeling the company the "loudest industry voice opposing calorie labeling.”
CSPI says the award was created in light of recent delays to the 2010 Affordable Care Act provision requiring calorie counts on menus and menu boards of chains with 20 or more locations. On May 5, the rule was scheduled to go into effect, but one week earlier, the date was delayed.
“Americans deserve to know what we’re eating, but Domino’s would prefer that we’re kept in the dark,” said Moyer. “Every day of delay means the industry has more opportunity to weaken the law that Congress passed seven long years ago.”
Domino’s says CSPI is not telling the whole truth.
“What we have been asking for… is that there is some flexibility in how restaurants provide information to their customers. A menu board (like you find at a burger place) makes sense for them; a printed menu at a sit-down restaurant makes sense for them; an online option for restaurants who receive mostly online or phone orders makes sense for them. That’s all we’ve ever asked for.” Domino’s also notes that it’s been sharing calorie information with its customers on its website for 15 years.
Other CSPI winners include:
- Texas Roadhouse’s “Most Damage from a Supporting Vegetable.” At a hefty 770 calories, this sweet potato dish piled with marshmallows and caramel is more like a dessert than a side vegetable. If paired with another side of Caesar salad and the 16-ounce prime rib, the meal tops the scales at 2,820 calories, with three days’ worth of saturated fat and more than 70 grams of sugar.
- Dave & Buster’s’ “Worst Original Appetizer.” The Carnivore Pizzadilla, as the name suggests, combines a quesadilla with pizza to create a 1,970-calorie feast of cheddar cheese, pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon, marinara, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.
- Buffalo Wild Wings’ “Worst Cheese in a Leading Role.” The cheese-curd bacon burger is a unique twist on the Wisconsin delicacy of deep-fried cheese curds. Here the curds are heaped onto a burger with cheese, bacon, and a mayo-based “cool heat sauce.” You’ll get a side of fries to top off the 1,950-calorie meal, which CSPI says is the equivalent to eating five Burger King Bacon Double Cheeseburgers.
- Chili’s “Worst Visceral Effects.” Chili’s Ultimate Smokehouse Combo lets you choose any three meats, from a BBQ chicken breast to a half rack of house-smoked baby back ribs. “Forget the tray,” CSPI’s new release jokes. “How about a trough?”
- Uno Pizzeria & Grill’s “Most Ridiculous Ending.” This desert is named the Ridiculously Awesome, Insanely Large Chocolate Cake. It has over 11 tablespoons of sugar, worth more than three times the daily recommended intake.
To see the full report on the CSPI website, click here.