Subway says it’s off the hook for ‘meritless’ claims that tuna mix doesn’t actually contain tuna

Original lawsuit claims Subway’s tuna mix is ‘mixture of various concoctions’

Subway is once again getting defensive about claims that its tuna sandwiches don’t actually contain tuna.

While a lawsuit filed in January over the claims has been slightly reworded, New York Times is now claiming its independent testing also found no tuna DNA.

The original lawsuit was filed on behalf of two residents in California who say they were “tricked into buying food items that wholly lacked the ingredients they reasonably thought they were purchasing.” The lawsuit claimed that the sandwiches did not contain tuna but in June was reworded to say that it did not contain “100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna,” the New York Times reported. A claim that Subway also says is without merit.

A reporter with the paper wrote that she purchased “more than 60 inches of Subway tuna sandwiches” and froze the meat before shipping it to a commercial food testing lab.

According to the New York Times report, the food testing lab found “no amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample.” The lab researchers also stated that they “cannot identify the species.”

In response, Subway posted a lengthy statement on its website stating that Subway restaurants only serve 100% wild-caught tuna.

“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,” the statement reads in part. “DNA testing is simply not a reliable way to identify denatured proteins, like Subway’s tuna, which was cooked before it was tested.”

The lab spokesperson seems to insinuate that this could indeed be the case. “There’s [sic] two conclusions. 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,” the article stated.

The New York Times article also mentioned that Inside Edition sent samples from three different Subway locations for testing and the lab did find tuna in those samples.

Officials with Subway took further aim at the New York Times report stating that “all it says is that the testing could not confirm tuna, which is what one would expect from a DNA test of denatured proteins.”

“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 continued.

Subway’s website previously listed their tuna mix as flaked tuna blended with creamy mayo but the description now states that the tuna sandwich is “100% wild-caught tuna blended with creamy mayo.”

A tuna industry official came to Subway’s defense in the New York Times saying, “They’re buying a can of tuna that says ‘tuna.’ If there’s any fraud in this case, it happened at the cannery.”

Subway officials ended their statement by saying “the lawsuit constitutes a reckless and improper attack on Subway’s brand and goodwill, and on the livelihood of its franchisees.”

This isn’t the first time Subway has been in hot water before in terms of their sandwiches. Last October, an Irish court said Subway bread wasn’t really bread because it contains too much sugar.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.