If you bought a tuna sandwich from a Subway restaurant recently, chances are you may have eaten something that was ‘made from anything but tuna,’ two Bay Area customers allege.
Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin of Alameda County filed a lawsuit in San Francisco federal court last week accusing the American fast food restaurant franchise of misrepresenting its tuna sandwich.
The plaintiffs claim that they performed independent lab tests of samples of tuna taken from several Subway locations in California.
The tests prove that the ‘tuna’ is actually 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.
The complaint does not specify what the lab tests revealed or what the tuna is actually made of.
A Subway representative told DailyMail.com: ‘These claims are meritless.’
Two Subway customers from Alameda County, California are suing the popular fast food restaurant chain because they claim lab tests prove that its tuna sandwich isn’t made from real tuna. The above image is a stock photo of a Subway tuna sandwich
Subway bills its tuna sandwich as ‘freshly baked bread’ that contains ‘flaked tuna blended with creamy mayo then topped with your choice of crisp, fresh veggies.’
But the plaintiffs’ attorney, Shalini Dogra, told the Post: ‘We found that the ingredients were not tuna and not fish.’
Dogra’s clients, Dhanowa and Amin, want to have their claim certified as a class action, which would allow thousands of other potentially dissatisfied customers to join in the legal action.
Anyone wishing to join the lawsuit would have had to purchase a tuna sandwich or tuna wrap sometime after January 21, 2017.
Dhanowa and Amin are suing Subway for fraud, intentional misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and other civil violations.
They claim they ‘were tricked into buying food items that wholly lacked the ingredients they reasonably thought they were purchasing’ based on Subway’s advertising and marketing of the product.
Dhanowa and Amin allege Subway ‘is saving substantial sums of money in manufacturing the products because the fabricated ingredient they use in the place of tuna costs less money.’
They claim they are being cheated out of the health benefits they thought they were getting by buying tuna sandwiches.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages as well as attorneys’ fees.
‘Consumers are consistently misled into purchasing the products for the commonly known and/or advertised benefits and characteristics of tuna when in fact no such benefits could be had, given that the products are in fact devoid of tuna,’ according to the complaint.
Subway says its tuna is flaked in brine, mayonnaise and an additive to ‘protect flavor.’
What is the nutritional value of a tuna sandwich? That depends on several factors, including the type of bread, cheese, veggies, sauces, and seasonings one may choose.
A Subway spokesperson told DailyMail.com that the claims are ‘meritless.’ The above image shows a Subway location in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida
According to Subway, a six-inch tuna sandwich with Italian-style bread, pepper jack cheese, cucumbers, green peppers, red onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and bacon translates into 580 calories, 35 grams of fat (9 grams saturated fat), and 70mg of cholesterol.
It would also contain 1,000mg of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 26 grams of protein, and some vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
A footlong version of the same sandwich equals double the nutritional values listed above.
‘Tuna is one of our most popular sandwiches,’ Katia Noll, Subway’s senior director for global food safety and quality at Subway, told DailyMail.com.
‘Our restaurants receive 100 per cent wild-caught tuna, mix it with mayonnaise and serve on a freshly made sandwich to our guests.’
Subway is the fast food chain with the largest number of restaurants both in the United States and worldwide.
According to its web site, there are more than 22,000 Subway franchises in the US; more than 2,800 in Canada; 1,674 in Brazil; more than 1,200 in Australia; and thousands more combined in Europe, Russia, and China.
Restaurateurs looking to start a business choose Subway because of their relatively cheap franchise fee, which is just $15,000.
By comparison, the franchise fee to start a McDonald’s costs $45,000.
Construction costs for Subway locations are also relatively cheap. While it could cost around $250,000 to open up a Subway, a McDonald’s restaurant could set you back as much as eight times that amount before serving one customer.
This is not the first time that Subway has been accused of making false claims misrepresenting its products.
In March 2017, Subway sued the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation over a television news report claiming its chicken is packed with soy fillers.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages as well as attorneys’ fees
In a TV expose, the CBC said Subway’s chicken was only around 50 per cent poultry and the rest of it soybeans.
Subway sought $210million in damages in the lawsuit calling the allegations ‘defamatory and absolutely false’.
That same year, a US federal appeals court threw out a class-action settlement intended to resolve claims that the Subway sandwich chain deceived customers by selling ‘Footlong’ subs that were less than a foot long.
The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago called the settlement ‘utterly worthless,’ even as it rewarded the customers’ lawyers for convincing Subway it was better to make the case go away than fight.
‘A class action that seeks only worthless benefits for the class and yields only fees for class counsel is no better than a racket and should be dismissed out of hand,’ Circuit Judge Diane Sykes wrote for a three-judge panel.
‘That’s an apt description of this case.’
This past fall, Ireland’s Supreme Court ruled that bread sold by Subway contains so much sugar that it cannot be legally defined as bread.
The ruling came in a tax dispute brought by Bookfinders Ltd., an Irish Subway franchisee, which argued that some of its takeaway products – including teas, coffees and heated sandwiches – were not liable for value-added tax.
A panel of judges rejected the appeal, ruling that the bread sold by Subway contains too much sugar to be categorized as a ‘staple food,’ which is not taxed.
‘There is no dispute that the bread supplied by Subway in its heated sandwiches has a sugar content of 10 per cent of the weight of the flour included in the dough, and thus exceeds the 2 per cent specified,’ the judgment read.
The law makes a distinction between ‘bread as a staple food’ and other baked goods ‘which are, or approach, confectionery or fancy baked goods,’ the judgment said.