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Subway CEO Responds To Allegations That Tuna Subs Contain No Tuna

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Subway CEO Responds To Allegations That Tuna Subs Contain No Tuna

The CEO of Subway has responded to claims the chain's tuna sandwiches contain no tuna whatsoever, after analysis was unable to pinpoint exactly what fish was used to make the sarnies earlier this year.

A lab report conducted by the New York Times failed to identify tuna in the sandwiches analysed.

A lawsuit earlier this year claimed the sandwiches were 'a mixture of various concoctions'. A Subway spokesperson described the allegations as 'meritless' at the time.

Now, Subway CEO John Chidsey has appeared on Fox Business to discuss the issue, and said the company stands firmly behind the tuna butties, adding that they contain '100 percent' tuna, regardless of what the lab said.


He told the TV programme: "We 100 percent stand behind our tuna. It's the one ingredient we didn't even touch in the largest brand refresh in the history of this brand.

"If you follow the science, once tuna is cooked its DNA becomes denatured, which means you can't tell once the product's been cooked."

A Subway tuna sandwich. Credit: PA
A Subway tuna sandwich. Credit: PA

The experiment that was conducted by the New York Times took 60 inches of Subway sandwiches, which is five footlong subs, from three different restaurants, and sent them to a laboratory in Los Angeles.


The tuna was frozen and sent off to the lab, where they found that 'no amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample and so we obtained no amplification products from the DNA.'

They concluded: "Therefore, we cannot identify the species."

The scientists at the lab conducted a PCR test to see if the tuna was one of five different species of tuna, and offered some reasoning behind why no definitive answer was found.

They said: "One, it's so heavily processed that whatever we could pull out, we couldn't make an identification...Or we got some and there's just nothing there that's tuna."


Under the US Food and Drug Administration's seafood list, there are currently 15 species of fish that can legally be labelled tuna.

The chain says they use '100 percent tuna'. Credit: PA
The chain says they use '100 percent tuna'. Credit: PA

The experts also concluded that Mr Chidsey's assertion that cooked tuna breaks down was true, and that could make the species of fish difficult to ascertain.

A lawsuit was filed against Subway in January in which plaintiffs said they were lied to and 'tricked into buying food items that wholly lacked the ingredients they reasonably thought they were purchasing.'


Subway responded by saying that there is 'no truth to the allegations in the complaint' and added that their restaurants 'deliver[s] 100 percent cooked tuna to its restaurants'.

Mr Chidsey said they've even set up a website called subwaytunafacts.com in order to 'set forth the facts and help clarify any misunderstandings' about the tuna they're serving.

The website claims they use 'wild-caught skipjack tuna regulated by the Food and Drug Administration'.

The sandwiches are one of Subway's most popular products. Credit: PA
The sandwiches are one of Subway's most popular products. Credit: PA

The full statement reads: "A recent New York Times report indicates that DNA testing is an unreliable methodology for identifying processed tuna.

"This report supports and reflects the position that Subway has taken in relation to a meritless lawsuit filed in California and with respect to DNA testing as a means to identify cooked proteins.

"DNA testing is simply not a reliable way to identify denatured proteins, like Subway's tuna, which was cooked before it was tested.

"Unfortunately, various media outlets have confused the inability of DNA testing to confirm a specific protein with a determination that the protein is not present.

"The testing that the New York Times report references does not show that there is not tuna in Subway's tuna.

"All it says is that the testing could not confirm tuna, which is what one would expect from a DNA test of denatured proteins.

Subway CEO John Chidsey. Credit: CNN
Subway CEO John Chidsey. Credit: CNN

"The fact is Subway restaurants serve 100% wild-caught, cooked tuna, which is mixed with mayonnaise and used in freshly made sandwiches, wraps and salads that are served to and enjoyed by our guests.

"The taste and quality of our tuna make it one of Subway's most popular products and these baseless accusations threaten to damage our franchisees, small business owners who work tirelessly to uphold the high standards that Subway sets for all of its products, including its tuna.

"Subway would like to point out that, after being presented with information about Subway's tuna and the reliability of DNA testing, the plaintiffs in the California lawsuit abandoned their original claim that Subway's tuna product does not contain tuna.

"However, rather than dismiss the claims altogether, as they should have, the plaintiffs' lawyers filed an amended complaint that alleges our tuna product is now not 100% tuna and that it is not sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna.

"Just like the original claim, the new claims are untrue and have absolutely no merit.

"In fact, the amended complaint does not remedy any of the fundamental flaws in the plaintiffs' case that should result in the case being dismissed.

"Given the facts, the lawsuit constitutes a reckless and improper attack on Subway's brand and goodwill, and on the livelihood of its franchisees."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Food, Business, Money, Food And Drink, US News, Weird, Animals, Subway

Tom Wood
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