Subway responds to a recent report that claimed to find no tuna DNA in its tuna sandwiches


MarketWatch: Subway is chewing out the New York Times.

The “newspaper of record” released a stomach-churning report last month that questioned whether the world’s largest sandwich chain was really using tuna fish in its popular tuna subs. In response, Subway has launched a website — — that debunks the Times’ findings.

An “eat fresh” refresher: A Times reporter had sent frozen samples of tuna meat ordered from three Los Angeles-area Subway shops to a lab that specializes in fish testing, in order to determine how much tuna is in the tuna sandwiches. The Subway tuna samples were run through a $500 PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, test, which detects genetic material from a specific organism by making millions or billions of copies from a DNA sample. The lab was looking for traces of one of five tuna species, including the skipjack and yellowfin tuna, which Subway’s tuna and seafood sourcing statement says are used in its sandwiches.

The results: “No amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample and so we obtained no amplification products from the DNA,” the report read. “Therefore, we cannot identify the species.”

And the findings went viral on Twitter, spawning around 60,000 tweets at the time as many customers questioned what they have been eating for years.

But there were several caveats sandwiched into the Times’ lab analyses; namely, that the tuna canning process, as well as the mayonnaise used to mix the tuna salad, could mess with the DNA test. A Subway spokesperson told MarketWatch at the time that DNA testing is an unreliable way to identify denatured proteins — or proteins whose characteristic properties change due to heat or acidity, such as the way Subway’s tuna was cooked before it was served on a sandwich, and then later tested by the Times.

And now is on a mission to get that message out to everyone. “We know there’s been a lot of talk on this topic, including misinformation generated in the media, so we created this page to set forth the facts and help clarify any misunderstandings,” the chain writes on the site.

Subway CEO John Chidsey told CNN  that the new website “will take you through all the science.”

“People love our tuna. We’re very proud of our tuna, so I think that’s really the end of the story,” he added.

The Subway website adds that the New York Times test results don’t show there’s no tuna in the chain’s tuna sandwiches; but rather, that the type of DNA test done “wasn’t a reliable way of determining whether the sample was tuna or not.”

What’s more, when Inside Edition tested tuna samples from three Subway locations in Queens earlier this year, the lab found that the specimens were, in fact, tuna. And when Inside Edition recently re-tested Subway’s tuna at a lab that has the ability to test broken-down fish DNA, the test results showed once more than the tuna sandwiches were really tuna.

The New York Times was not immediately available for comment, but the news organization told Inside Edition that it sticks by its reporting. “The New York Times procured more than 60 inches of Subway tuna sandwiches from three Subway locations in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, removed and froze the tuna meat, then shipped it across the country to a commercial food testing lab,” a spokesperson told the news outlet. “As our story states, the lab that we used that specializes in fish testing asked to remain anonymous, for fear of jeopardizing future business relationships.”

The Times launched the investigation following a class-action suit in California that claims the popular tuna subs are “completely bereft of tuna as an ingredient.” But it should be noted that the suit has walked back its claims somewhat, shifting the complaint from whether Subway’s tuna is tuna at all to weather it’s “100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna.”

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  1. What’s more, when Inside Edition tested tuna samples from three Subway locations in Queens earlier this year, the lab found that the specimens were, in fact, tuna.

    Read the damned article…

  2. I love how people are sue Happy and put smear campaigns together based on opinions & assumptions! The NY Times seems as bad as the National Enquirer!

  3. I had gotten a tuna sandwich from Subway a few months ago. It tasted like it was made with soy protein and bread. Did not taste like “Tuna”. I had it a few years ago it was better not now.

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