Subway's Defiant Response To The NYT Tuna Sandwich Lab Report

The biggest question in fast food right now seems to be, "Is there any tuna in Subway's tuna sandwich?" The controversy started after The Washington Post reported in January that two California residents sued Subway, claiming the chain's popular tuna subs do not contain anything even remotely related to tuna. "We found that the ingredients were not tuna and not fish," an attorney who filed the lawsuit told The Post. The people making this scandalous claim have already backed down quite a bit. Now, their lawsuit only challenges Subway's claim that it offers "100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna" (via The New York Times).

The Times tried to get bottom of Subway's meat mystery by scraping the tuna out of a few footlongs and sending it to a DNA lab for testing. The results, however, only raised more questions. The lab told The Times it couldn't find any "amplifiable tuna DNA" that it could then copy, in order to confirm what particular tuna species, if any, was in those sandwiches. This means one of two things: Either there was no tuna in the sample, or the tuna's DNA was so badly corrupted during processing that it couldn't be detected. Subway is leaning hard on the second option.

Subway says the NYT lab test doesn't prove anything

After lab tests ordered by The New York Times to identify the DNA in Subway tuna were inconclusive, Subway defended their tuna and argued, in so many words, that the tests were a waste of time. Subway said it uses 100% wild-caught tuna that is precooked and mixed with mayonnaise, according to Nation's Restaurant News. "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 said in a statement issued on June 24. 

"Inside Edition" tried to settle the argument months ago by ordering its own DNA testing. The lab the TV news show used confirmed tuna in three Subway samples (via YouTube). But the controversy refuses to die, possibly because of the large number of steps it takes for a tuna to get from the sea to your local Subway. The chain wouldn't tell The New York Times who its tuna suppliers are, but it is possible they pack something other than tuna into those vacuum-sealed pouches. "I would hope that an issue like this would cause more people across the country and all across the world to spend more time thinking about every step of the environmental, labor, and economic supply chains that supply their food," food critic Ryan Sutton told The Times.