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DNA tests allegedly reveal that Subway’s ‘chicken’ is only about 50% chicken

A Subway fast food restaurant's sign is shown, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A recent investigation into poultry sold at major fast-food restaurants in Canada suggests that Subway's chicken could be more accurately named "only about half chicken."

Last month, DNA researcher Matt Harnden, who works at Trent University's Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory, tested the DNA of the poultry from six popular fast-food chicken sandwiches at five different restaurants. Two of those chicken sandwiches were from Subway, and results indicated that both of the menu items only contained about 50 percent chicken DNA.

For illustrative purposes, a piece of packaged, plain raw chicken at the store should register as 100 percent chicken DNA. Once a piece of chicken is marinaded, seasoned and processed, that number starts to decrease, so the expectation for any fast food chicken breast wouldn't be a 100 percent result. Even taking that into consideration, Subway's results were disturbingly low, especially when compared to other fast food restaurants.

According to CBC News, when comparing test results of Subway to those of McDonald's, Wendy's, Tim Hortons and A&W Restaurants, which all averaged between 80 to 90 percent chicken DNA, Subway was so far outside the norm that the chicken had to be tested again.

Both times they were tested, Subway's Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich and Oven Roasted Chicken sandwich produced abysmal results. When averaged, the Oven Roasted Chicken scored 53.6 percent chicken DNA, and the Chicken Teriyaki strips came in even worse, at just 42.8 percent chicken DNA. The rest of the DNA in the "chicken" mostly consisted of soy.

Subway has already disputed the results of the independent test, saying in a statement that their sandwiches were "made from 100 percent white meat chicken," and that they would look into the results with their supplier to make sure the chicken is up to their standards.

SUBWAY Canada cannot confirm the veracity of the results of the lab testing you had conducted. However, we are concerned by the alleged findings you cite with respect to the proportion of soy content. Our chicken strips and oven roasted chicken contain 1% or less of soy protein. 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. 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.


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