DNA lab test doesn't detect tuna in Subway sandwiches

The New York Times set up an independent lab test of 60 inches of tuna sandwiches from three Subway restaurants.

A new DNA lab report has not shown conclusive evidence there is actual tuna in Subway’s tuna sandwiches.

Subway is facing a class-action lawsuit claiming that its tuna sandwiches do not contain tuna and that the restaurant chain cannot prove the fish is sustainable.

The New York Times set up an independent lab test of 60 inches of tuna sandwiches from three Subway restaurants in Los Angeles, California. The testing, which included a polymerase chain reaction test that searched for DNA of five different tuna species, detected no tuna in the sandwiches, according to the newspaper.

The results could mean that Subway’s tuna is so heavily processed that, if there is tuna in the company’s sandwiches, it couldn’t be clearly identified, according to a spokesperson for the unidentified lab. Or, the results could mean that there is no tuna in the sandwiches, the spokesperson said.

However, a separate Inside Edition test conducted by Applied Food Technologies found that Subway’s sandwiches did contain tuna, per the New York Daily News.

This is not the first time Subway’s tuna sandwiches and wraps have come under fire.

In January 2021, plaintiffs filing a class-action lawsuit claimed that the substance in Subway’s sandwiches and wraps is not tuna. Instead, the “'tuna' is a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna, yet have been blended together by [Subway] to imitate the appearance of tuna,” according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

However, that complaint was amended in early June to expand its focus to Subway’s tuna sustainability claims.

While Subway claims that its tuna is 100 percent sustainably-caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna, and that its tuna does not contain “tuna species that come from anything less than healthy stocks, for example albacore and tongol,” Subway cannot support those claims, the complaint stated.

The “tuna” that is used in Subway’s California-based locations comes to each restaurant in a sealed vacuum bag that has been prepackaged outside the United States, the plaintiffs said. As a result, the restaurant chain lacks “a reliable and standardized protocol to ensure that the contents of these sealed vacuum bags are actually tuna,” the complaint said.

Consumers paid a premium for Subway’s tuna sandwiches and wraps, because they were advertised as 100 percent sustainably-caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna, the complaint said.

Subway did not respond to SeafoodSource’s request for comment.

Photo courtesy of Prachana Thong-on/Shutterstock


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