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Probe finds Subway tuna sandwiches have no identifiable tuna DNA

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The New York Times recently bought 60 inches of Subway tuna sandwiches from three store locations in Los Angeles and paid for a test that found "no amplifiable tuna DNA."

Maybe you stopped eating tuna from Subway when you read about a lawsuit claiming it wasn’t tuna at all. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you’ve never even tried it before. Regardless, there’s news on the “is Subway’s tuna really tuna?” front.

The New York Times recently published reporter Julia Carmel’s investigation into that question. The upshot: The tuna procured from 60 inches of Subway sandwiches by the reporter and tested by an unidentified commercial food testing lab contained “no amplifiable tuna DNA.”

“There’s two conclusions,” wrote the spokesperson for the lab, which agreed to do the test for $500 and on the condition of anonymity in order not to risk any future opportunities to work with Subway. “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.”

So, Subway’s tuna isn’t tuna. Got it. Not so fast.

Carmel explains that tuna’s DNA is compromised during the cooking process “making it difficult, if not impossible, to identify.” The article mentions the television news program “Inside Edition,” which conducted its own investigation in February and found the samples it sent to a lab did indeed contain tuna.

Further, even if it isn’t tuna, experts told the New York Times it would be difficult to pin the deception on Subway. The source of any fraud would’ve likely happened at the cannery.


The reporter also interviewed current and former Subway sandwich artists. Both believe Subway has no reason to deceive the public and believe the tuna is in fact what the fast-food chain says it is.

“Each store follows corporate guidelines, which instruct that certain meats can stay out in the store’s refrigerated sandwich bar for up to 24, 48 or 72 hours.”

Tuna, according to a manager at a Subway in California, has a 72-hour counter life, though some locations replace it before the three days are up.

The company didn’t respond to the New York Times when asked about the latest lab results and instead supplied an earlier statement calling the accusations in the lawsuit “baseless.”

As for that lawsuit, the plaintiffs recently filed an amended complaint that now focuses on Subway’s claims that it uses “100% sustainably-caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna.”


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