Subway launched a website to show their tuna is 100% real tuna

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At this point I feel sorry for Subway. In January they were sued in the state of California for allegedly not having real tuna or even fish in their tuna subs. The plaintiffs have since dropped the part of the lawsuit that stated that Subway subs didn’t have tuna in them. The NY Times then published a whole weird expose stating that there was no “amplifiable tuna DNA” in the samples of Subway tuna their lab tested. However the lab did state that it was possible that the processing of the tuna affected their results.

After that, Inside Edition hired a lab which was experienced in testing fish DNA. Their lab stated that Subway’s tuna did have tuna DNA in it and that many labs are just inexperienced in testing cooked fish samples. There’s now this rumor and perception that Subway doesn’t have real tuna in their subs. It’s damaging to their brand and so they’ve started a website to counter it. They state that the tests are inadequate in many cases and that they only use 100% wild caught tuna. You can view it at SubwayTunaFacts and here are a few of the points they make.

Myth: The New York Times reported Subway’s premium, fan-favorite tuna wasn’t actually tuna.

Truth: Not true! What actually happened is that the New York Times commissioned a test that couldn’t detect tuna DNA in their sample. According to scientific experts, this is not unusual when testing cooked tuna and it absolutely doesn’t mean the sample that was tested contained zero tuna.

The New York Times test results only show that the type of DNA test done by the unnamed lab wasn’t a reliable way of determining whether the sample was tuna or not. If the test had confirmed the existence of a protein other than tuna, questions could have been raised. However, their “non-detect” conclusion really just means that the test was inadequate in determining what the protein was. In other words, it was a problem with the test, not the tuna.

Still not convinced? Check out USA Today’s independent fact check of the New York Times’ conclusion, which found it lacked important context about the limitations of DNA testing of denatured proteins, and some additional information from food DNA testing firm Applied Food Technologies about why DNA testing isn’t always conclusive in testing processed tuna given the cooking and packaging process breaks down the DNA fragments. The challenge of accurately testing processed tuna DNA has been known for a while, and even studied by scientists.

FDA-regulated Subway importers use only 100% wild-caught tuna from whole round, twice cleaned, skipjack tuna loins. Reclaimed meat and flake are strictly prohibited by our standards. The tuna that Subway guests enjoy is not processed any differently than canned or pouch tuna found in the average supermarket.

It’s also important to note that the word “flake” can be used in two different contexts when it comes to tuna, and this misunderstanding is a matter of semantics. Flaked tuna is not the same as tuna flake. Subway’s tuna product is listed as “Flaked Tuna in Brine” on its labels to describe the preparation of the tuna—specifically the piece size and the texture. It may display differently on the import records, where it appears to be written in short-hand. Subway specifically prohibits the use of any tuna flake, byproduct, or remnants in its tuna.

[From Subway Tuna Facts]

After that Subway said their tuna isn’t processed any differently than the tuna in the supermarket and they named their tuna importers. Subway’s tuna is good! I eat a lot of tuna and while I know it’s not the healthiest choice due to the fat and calories from the mayo, I still get it. I hope that Subway is able to change the perception that their tuna isn’t real. So many people just read the headlines and then form an opinion. (So many people base their entire life view off memes on Facebook, but that’s a different issue.) I’ve seen this happen over and over again through this job and it’s frustrating. Like I said I feel bad for Subway and hope this helps them clear these misconceptions about their tuna.

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14 Responses to “Subway launched a website to show their tuna is 100% real tuna”

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  1. Oh_Hey says:

    But if it’s so processed that the NYT can’t find tuna DNA in it I kinda don’t want it anyway – proof of fish authenticity or not.
    In all this foolery over tuna content a lot of other dark info about subway’s late founder and business practices has been coming out and that’s on top of the Jared stuff. There a just other places to eat at this point.

    • Eurydice says:

      I think the point is that tuna processing in general breaks down the DNA, so that a DNA test is not the appropriate one for determining content. This also would be true if they just tested a can of Bumblebee tuna.

    • Ellie says:

      In many places, there really aren’t other places to eat that are better. I grew up in a town in a Midwest where Subway was the only non-fried option, and forget getting vegetables anywhere else – including the grocery store, where they were spoiled if they were in stock at all. Food deserts are still a huge problem, not only in small towns but in low income parts of large cities.

  2. Astrid says:

    I don’t go to Subway very often, I prefer other fast food. But when I do go, the tuna always looks so soupy and unappetizing that I never order it, regardless if there’s fish in it or not

  3. Keats says:

    That NYT story was so shady though. They stopped around for a lab after being told time and time again that generating a DNA profile from cooked tuna salad wouldn’t be possible, finally found a lab that was like “whatever fine” and then submitted a buncha sandwiches for testing. All DNA doesn’t amplify the same, I only know about human DNA amplification so I can’t tell you if glops of mayo inhibit DNA amplification or whatever…
    I’m not sure what my point is here, I guess I kind of feel bad for Subway too? Can’t believe I feel bad for a corporation but here we are.

  4. faithmobile says:

    This just proved what a lot of tuna lovers already new: not all tuna is created equally. If you want good tuna it won’t be found at a Subway. Give me a pan bagnat you can keep your sloppy tuna hoagie.

  5. MsIam says:

    Sorry,but I like Subway tuna. Nobody wants to admit to liking and eating pork rinds either, lol.

    • I do too! Although I like the taste of Jimmy John’s Tuna better. They add pickle juice to it I think.

    • Jillie says:

      I love pork rinds. Especially on Thai beef noodle soup. I also like tuna, but generally don’t really care for Subway.

    • Christine says:

      Replace pork rinds with Vienna sausages, and I am with you. My life is pretty much entirely organic, free range, blah, bah, blah, because I have a son, but I have a can of Vienna sausages hidden in my kitchen, because I know that craving is going to come for me eventually.

  6. GrnieWnie says:

    As anyone who worked there as a teenager can attest, the tuna smells and looks exactly like tuna. Then you add a vat of mayo, and voila: tuna for your sub.

  7. CatJ says:

    I haven’t eaten at Subway since the Jared scandal, and won’t in the future. There are so many other choices out there. And I eat pork rinds. :)

  8. Jules says:

    Gross, my stomach is turning just reading this. Fast food is junk food. I will gladly pay more for quality food, I want to know what I am eating.

  9. AMA1977 says:

    I hate tuna (made at home, from a shop, in any form) so I don’t eat it, and I am picky about deli meat so Subway is a “no” but it’s kind of ridiculous to me, as someone who worked in restaurants for over 15 years (including a stint at Potbelly which remains the WORST job I ever had and still gives me nightmares years later) that people actually believe that there is some conspiracy where Subway is swapping in some other thing for tuna. Think of how many people would have to keep quiet about it! Think of all of the records and invoices and documents that would have to be faked! And tuna is CHEAP. It’s not like people are saying they’re faking jumbo lump crab meat, that might actually have a financial incentive (although it would still be a crazy scheme when you consider all the people who could blow the whistle on it.) They use the giant, food-service pouches of Star-Kist or other name-brand tuna, add about the same amount of mayo, and boom! Tuna salad.

    What I REALLY want to get to the bottom of is WTH is going on with the wrap thing in the middle picture. It looks unholy and strange, like an extraterrestrial made a wrap sandwich. It is NOT making me hungry…