Captain D’s, Long John Silver’s defend brands after Lent-related oil uproar

Published on
February 15, 2018

A storm is brewing that could impact some restaurants’ sales this Lenten season. 

A Business Insider article published 14 February reported some quick-service restaurant chains – including some Captain D’s locations – use beef tallow, which is made from rendered animal fat, to fry food. As a result, Catholics who are strictly avoiding meat for Lent could be consuming some meat by-product in Captain D’s fried flounder, shrimp, and other fried foods, according to the article. Other Captain D’s locations contacted by Business Insider use soy oil.

Captain D’s, which operates 533 restaurants in the U.S., did not want to comment specifically on the article to SeafoodSource, because “We don’t want to give it further credence,” a spokesperson said. 

However, the spokesperson said that the chain uses a propriety blend of oils in frying, and that customers can check the nutritional information on Captain D’s website if they have specific allergies. 

“No matter how customers choose to observe Lent, Captain D’s has menu items that are fit for everyone,” the spokesperson said.

While the Catholic church does not consider beef oil to be the equivalent as eating meat, it is still a concern for believers practicing Lent, according to Business Insider.

"My impression is that the church doesn't get that specific, but I think generally the answer should be that they probably shouldn't be eating it," David Wood, director of worship at the Catholic diocese of Austin, said.

McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich would be “safe” for Catholics to eat, according to Business Insider, because the chain uses vegetable oil since it was sued in the 1990s for using meat tallow to cook its French fries.

Long John Silver’s, which operates nearly 1,000 restaurants, said it uses only 100 percent canola oil. 

“We want to reassure our Catholic customers that we respect your faith and the eating choices you make during Lent,” said James O’Reilly, CEO of the restaurant chain. “Long John Silver’s uses only 100 percent pure canola oil in all U.S. restaurants because we care about your faithful choices. Rest assured, Long John Silver’s wild caught Alaskan fish, shrimp, fries, and hushpuppies are Lent appropriate.”

Instead of harming sales during the Lenten season, LJS expects the controversy “to help companies who respect Catholic traditions,” Stephanie Mattingly, vice president of marketing at LJS, told SeafoodSource.

“Restaurants that use beef tallow should be very clear with their customers that their fish and shrimp is not appropriate to eat during Lent,” Mattingly added. “I’d hate to be their store employees having to answer to Catholics who think they are being misled.”

Contributing Editor

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