Study: Subway’s Chicken Has 50% Chicken DNA

Subway Chicken DNA
Settawat Udom / Shutterstock.com

50 percent of the DNA in the chicken used in Subway sandwiches comes from a chicken, according to a new study. Researchers say that the number should be 100 percent if it is chicken.

CBC did a DNA test of chicken from various fast-food restaurants in Canada and found most of the restaurants contained approximately 100 percent chicken DNA, except for Subway. For example, McDonald’s Country Chicken had an average of 84.9 percent chicken DNA and Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich had an average of 88.5 percent Chicken DNA.

Meanwhile, the results of the study found Subway’s oven-roasted chicken contained 53.6% chicken DNA. Meanwhile, Subway’s chicken strips only had 42.8% chicken DNA. The rest of it contained soy DNA.

Subway Chicken
NEW YORK – NOV 27: An exterior view of a Subway restaurant in New York City, on November 27, 2013. Subway operates in over 100 countries and has over 40,000 restaurants. (JStone / Shutterstock.com)

Researchers were so surprised by the DNA results they checked the Subway chicken twice. In a statement, Subway Canada disagreed with the findings and claimed that their chicken is “100% white meat” with 1% or less of soy ingredients.

“Our chicken strips and oven roasted chicken contain 1% or less of soy protein,” Subway explained in a statement. “We use this ingredient in these products as a means to help stabilize the texture and moisture. All of our chicken items are made from 100% white meat chicken which is marinated, oven roasted and grilled.”

Subway added, “We tested our chicken products recently for nutritional and quality attributes and found it met our food quality standards. We will look into this again with our supplier to ensure that the chicken is meeting the high standard we set for all of our menu items and ingredients.”

Overall, researchers argued that fast food chicken has 25% less protein than you would receive from chicken cooked at home. Also, the levels of sodium were seven to 10 times higher than “unadulterated chicken.”

Update (Wednesday, May 17, 2017): Subway has issued a statement on the investigation.

Independent Labs Discredit Canadian Story on Subway Chicken

Two independent laboratories testing Subway® chicken have found that alleged test results broadcast on Feb. 24 by the Canadian Television show, Marketplace, were false and misleading.

 Test results from laboratories in Canada and the U.S. 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 representatives immediately contacted the program and the lab that conducted the tests to inquire about the methodology and the testing process. The program and the lab declined to engage with Subway except to share the results. In response, Subway sent samples of the Canadian products that Marketplace claimed contained 50% soy protein to Maxxam Analytics in Canada and Elisa Technologies, Inc., in Florida.

The results from both labs found soy protein below 10 ppm, or less than 1%, in all tested samples. These findings are 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 stunningly flawed test by Marketplace is a tremendous disservice to our customers. 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% chicken is 100% wrong,” said SUBWAY President and CEO Suzanne Greco.

 Dave Theno, Subway’s Chief of Food Safety & Quality, said, ” Our chicken is 100% white meat with seasonings, marinated, cooked and delivered to our restaurants. The chicken has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Through years of testing, we’ve never seen results like the program claimed.” 

Subway has shared the results of the independent tests with Marketplace and the lab that conducted the flawed test. The company is demanding a retraction and apology.