MILFORD, Conn. – Subway Restaurants is demanding an apology and a retraction of a Canadian broadcast news report that claimed the company’s chicken strips are less than 50 percent chicken, while its chicken breasts were slightly more than 50 percent chicken.
Subway’s response came after the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) aired an episode of Marketplace, an investigative news program that focuses on consumer issues. In the episode, grilled chicken served in sandwiches from Subway, McDonald’s, A&W, Wendy’s and Tim Hortons were submitted to Trent Univ.’s Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory. The results allegedly found that the Subway chicken strips and grilled chicken breasts submitted for testing were mostly made of soy.
Subway said the results were false and misleading. The company said in a statement that test results from independent laboratories in the United States and Canada “… clearly show that the Canadian chicken products tested had only trace amounts of soy, contradicting the accusations made during the broadcast of CBC Marketplace.”
Subway said its independent test results found soy protein below 10 parts per million, or less than 1 percent, in all tested samples. The company explained that the results were consistent with the “… low levels of soy protein that we add with the spices and marinade to help keep the products moist and flavorful.” The company submitted samples to Maxxam Analytics in Mississauga, Canada, and Elisa Technologies Inc. in Gainesville, Florida.
Company representatives contacted CBC Marketplace and the laboratory that conducted the tests requesting information about the methodology and the testing process. Subway said the program and the lab declined to provide that information and shared only the test results.
“Our chicken is 100 percent white meat with seasonings, marinated, cooked and delivered to our restaurants,” Food safety expert Dave Theno, chief of Food Safety & Quality for Subway, said in a statement. “The chicken has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Through years of testing, we’ve never seen results like the program claimed.”
In addition to allegations of using fillers, the Marketplace program featured a meat scientist at the Univ. of Guelph that speculated Subway’s chicken breast is actually ground chicken breast meat formed in the shape of a chicken breast patty, fully cooked and then seared to produce grill marks.
“The stunningly flawed test by Marketplace is a tremendous disservice to our customers,” Subway President and CEO Suzanne Greco said in a statement. “The safety, quality and integrity of our food is the foundation of our business. That’s why we took extra caution to test and retest the chicken. Our customers can have confidence in our food. The allegation that our chicken is only 50 percent chicken is 100 percent wrong.”