The Time Subway Meat Was Claimed To Be 'Half-Chicken'

There's a reason why fast food is often considered to be unhealthy. Not only does it have a bad rap for being high in trans fat, which can increase both bad cholesterol and risk of type 2 diabetes, but it also tends to be packed with levels of sugar and sodium that are way beyond the recommended daily intake (via Healthline). Besides the excess calories and fats, there are other disturbing elements that lurk in fast food, too.

Several fast food chains, excluding places like Panera and Chipotle, have been slammed for serving meat containing high amounts of antibiotics in the past. And in 2021, a scientific study found high concentrations of chemicals like plasticizers in fast food burritos, hamburgers, and nuggets. While this all might come as little surprise to some consumers, what did present a bit shock to fast food fans — specifically, those of Subway — was the news that the meat they were eating inside their sandwiches was possibly not even meat at all.

A 2017 investigation conducted by Canada-based CBC Marketplace studied the DNA of meats from five fast food chains. While no product with seasoning or marinade was expected to clock in as 100% meat, four of the five chains still had satisfactory results, with their meats ranking around 90%. Subway's results, on the other hand, were shockingly low.

Subway's chicken isn't the only suspect

According to CBC Marketplace's DNA analysis of Subway's oven-roasted chicken sandwich, only 53.6% of the protein's DNA was chicken. The teriyaki chicken strips were even more disappointing, with results showing that only 42.8% of the strips could be traced back to actual chicken. The rest of the "chicken" was actually found to be soy. To make things worse, the study found that Subway's chicken had less protein and at least seven times the sodium compared to home-cooked versions. While Subway denied CBC's claims, it's not the first time a Subway food item has been accused of being short on its starring ingredient.

Since the "half-chicken" controversy, Subway has been embroiled in several lawsuits about another protein. Last year, 19 out of 20 samples collected from stores in Southern California found that Subway's tuna had traces of other animal proteins, like pork or chicken (via The Washington Post). Even more surprisingly, the tuna samples were found to have no DNA traces of tuna at all. Whether this was because the tuna was so processed that no traces of the fish could be detected — or because it was never tuna at all — was unclear. Regardless, the chain was accused of misrepresentation, as well as "ethical, religious, and dietary" violations.

Even Subway's bread has been accused of being so high in sugar — five times more than Irish law allows — that it doesn't fall under the definition of bread and is actually considered closer to dessert in some parts of the world, reports NPR. Although the chain has denied all allegations, Subway's many controversies have made fans frequently question whether their sandwich orders are all that they think them to be.