What You Need To Know About Subway's 4-Hour Meatball Rule

"Eat Fresh." This has long been Subway's motto, a promise to the consumer that they are eating a sandwich made with only the freshest meats and ingredients. For the cynics out there, this "promise" is nothing but hot air and sleazy marketing. While we can't say that they are 100% correct, Subway has found itself in hot water regarding the supposed "freshness" and quality of its ingredients. One of the chain's biggest debacles involved the 2021 claim that Subway's tuna wasn't actually tuna, but instead a combination of various animal proteins with very little tuna (via CBS News). In 2020, the Ireland Supreme Court ruled that Subway's bread (the one that is supposedly baked fresh each day) wasn't "real bread" (via NBC News). Instead, the bread was more or less a "confectionary" due to the high sugar content.

In response to these accusations, and to, of course, save face, Subway launched its "Eat Fresh, Refresh" campaign in 2022 (per Nation's Restaurant News), promising a new and truly fresh experience to the Subway customer. This overhaul included improved bread, premium deli meats, and artisanal-style sandwiches. While this campaign plans to help improve Subway's image and keep accusations of less-than-fresh business practices under the rug, Subway employees may tell you that despite all the hype, things may not be so green behind the counter.

This is the case of some employees who have posted on Reddit claiming that Subway's meatballs may not be as fresh as they appear, despite company policies.

Redditors claim no one changes the meatballs

At Subway, there seems to be a rule that the meatballs are to be changed every four hours, apparently to help keep the meatballs fresh after they've been sitting out for so long. According to employees on r/Subway, you'd have to be pretty naive to think they do that.

"First rule about meatballs is you don't talk about meatballs," said user "u/Ok-Ebb-2031."

"HA! Every 4 hours, that's hilarious," quipped u/ds5500s. "I don't like reheating yesterday's meatballs, but it's not up to me ... "

"Never heard nothin' bout no 4-hour rule," said u/RangeWilson.

Other users claimed that they are told to not only keep the meatballs from that day but to reheat them for tomorrow. One user even claimed that their store changes the dates on the meatballs to make them appear fresh. Yet this isn't the first time Subway employees on Reddit have warned others about the meatballs. A Subway employee on r/IAmA explains that one could tell how fresh the meatballs are by the sauce. If the sauce is a bright reddish color, then the meatballs are fresh. If the meatballs are in a dark red or brownish sauce, then they are not very fresh.

Subway has actually worked with retooling their meatball sandwich a few times. One such endeavor included releasing a "meatless" meatball sandwich in 2019 using plant-based "meat" (via CBS News).