Health Advocates Say Joe’s Crab Shack Is Breaking Its “No Trans Fat” Promise

The Joe's Crab Shack menu states that no trans fats are used, but the CSPI claims that some locations are using margarine that contains high amounts of the controversial ingredient.

The Joe’s Crab Shack menu states that no trans fats are used, but the CSPI claims that some locations are using margarine that contains high amounts of the controversial ingredient.

Seven years ago, the new owners of the 130-location Joe’s Crab Shack restaurant chain promised to completely stop using controversial artificial trans fats in the cooking of its menu items. But the folks at the Center for Science in the Public Interest say Joe’s is breaking this promise by serving up heaps of trans fat-heavy margarine on some dishes.

According to CSPI, the “Joe’s Pasta-laya,” which contains shrimp and andouille sausage “cooked in a garlic butter sauce full of mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes and onions,” contains 14 grams of trans fat, which is around the weekly limit for trans fat consumption recommended by the American Heart Association.

Similarly, the Joe’s Crab Cake Dinner turned up 14g of trans fat while the Redfish Pontchartrain contained 16g of the ingredient that has already been banned in California, New York City and elsewhere.

Even worse are the chain’s Steampots, which serve up sides of dipping “butter” containing upwards of 25g of trans fats.

As you can see by the above scan of a Joe’s menu, the company makes a “zero trans fat oil” claim to the public. To the CSPI, this puts the chain in a legal corner.

“Joe’s Crab Shack is serving up a ready-made class action lawsuit on a silver platter to America’s trial lawyers,” claims CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner.

The chain does appear to be abiding by its promise in areas where the use of trans fats are restricted. When a CSPI nutritionist went to a Joe’s Crab Shack in Montgomery County, MD, where restaurants’ use of trans fats is limited by local laws, she found that the restaurant was indeed using real butter.

But at other locations without such restrictions, the kitchens are allegedly using a margarine with a high level of trans fats.

“Joe’s Crab Shack knows it has safer alternatives, and uses them where required — but only where required,” said CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson. “The behavior of Joe’s and other irresponsible companies shows why the FDA needs to finish its work to eliminate partially hydrogenated oil from the food supply once and for all.”