What's Going On With Subway's Tuna Sandwiches?

One lab said it couldn't find tuna DNA
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2021 6:36 PM CDT
What's Going On With Subway's Tuna Sandwiches?
Subway Global Ambassador and world's greatest soccer player Pele, right, holds Subway tuna sandwich as Liverpool FC legend Robbie Fowler, left, looks on, in 2015.   (Photo by Mark Allan/Invision for SUBWAY Restaurants/AP Images)

We already know that Subway’s bread isn’t bread—it’s cake. Now DNA testing can’t confirm the tuna is tuna. What’s going on? Is it time to freak out? Well, actually, probably not. It’s true that two people in California started a class-action lawsuit accusing Subway of putting something else in the tuna sandwiches—without specifying what that something might be. A New York Times reporter decided to try to plumb the depths of this seafood issue by buying up five feet of sandwiches, just the tuna and no veggies, and shipping them off to a lab for testing. The results seemed fishy, initially. “No amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample and so we obtained no amplification products from the DNA,” the lab said.

But does that mean it’s … something else? Not necessarily! All canned tuna is cooked. Subway tuna is further processed by blending it with mayonnaise. That’s a lot of processing, and just the cooking is enough to denature proteins and make DNA results hard to pin down. The lab clarified that while it’s possible there’s DNA that isn’t tuna, it’s totally possible that there was no usable DNA to amplify. Inside Edition had a test done back in February, and their lab found DNA—tuna DNA. And the lawsuit’s plaintiffs have more or less conceded, too, asking Subway only to prove that “100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna.” If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Jessica Simpson, who is still apparently living down the time she wasn’t sure if Chicken of the Sea was tuna or chicken, tweeted her support: “It’s OK @SUBWAY. It IS confusing.” (More Subway stories.)

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