A new version of a lawsuit filed against Subway accusing the fast-food restaurant franchise of deceiving the public about its tuna products claims that lab testing shows they contain animal proteins such as chicken, pork, and cattle, and not the advertised “100% tuna.”
The complaint, filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in California by Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin, claims that nineteen of 20 tuna samples from Subway restaurants throughout Southern California contained “no detectable tuna DNA sequences whatsoever,” while 20 samples contained “detectable sequences of chicken DNA,” The New York Post reports.
Eleven of the samples contained animal protein including pork or cattle, according to the lawsuit.
Dhanowa and Amin collected the 20 data samples from multiple outlets before submitting them for testing at the Barber Lab at UCLA’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
“Defendants do not take sufficient measures to control or prevent the known risks of adulteration to its tuna products. On the contrary, they actively perpetuate actions and steps that encourage mixing or allowing non-tuna ingredients to make their way into the tuna products,” Dhanowa and Amin alleged in their third amended lawsuit against Subway.
Dhanowa and Amin first filed a lawsuit against the fast food giant earlier this year claiming that its tuna ingredient was actually “a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna,” The Washington Post reported.
Since the lawsuit was filed in January, Subway launched a new page on its website stating that the tuna used in its sandwiches is 100 percent real, which includes a “tuna fact check” section.
“That’s right. The truth is, Subway uses wild-caught skipjack tuna regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A favorite among sub lovers, our tuna is and has always been high-quality, premium, and 100% real,” the page reads.
Referencing Dhanowa and Amin’s lawsuit, the page adds, “The reckless complaint that spurred this misinformation was rightfully dismissed by the Court on October 7, 2021. While the plaintiffs have filed an amended complaint, Subway is moving swiftly to file a new motion to dismiss the lawsuit once again.”
District Judge Jon Tigar dismissed the second version of their complaint last month, saying the plaintiffs did not show they bought Subway tuna based on alleged misrepresentations, Reuters reports.
In June, the New York Times ran its own series of lab tests on various samples of Subway tuna sandwiches, after purchasing 60 inches of them from three different restaurants in Los Angeles.
The Times concluded that, “no amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample and so we obtained no amplification products from the DNA,” and could therefore not “identify the species.”
However, the report noted that various factors may have played a role in the results, including that when tuna is cooked, its DNA is broken down making it hard to identify.
In response to the study, Subway said on its website that, “The New York Times test results only show that the type of DNA test done by the unnamed lab wasn’t a reliable way of determining whether the sample was tuna or not. If the test had confirmed the existence of a protein other than tuna, questions could have been raised. However, their ‘non-detect’ conclusion really just means that the test was inadequate in determining what the protein was. In other words, it was a problem with the test, not the tuna.”
According to Reuters, Dhanowa and Amin are seeking unspecified damages for fraud and violations of California consumer protection laws.
“The plaintiffs have filed three meritless complaints, changing their story each time,” a Subway spokesperson told The Post. “This third, most recent amended claim, was filed only after their prior complaint was rightfully dismissed by a federal judge. Our legal team is in the process of evaluating the plaintiffs’ amended claim, and will once again file a new motion to dismiss this reckless and improper lawsuit. The fact remains that Subway tuna is real and strictly regulated by the FDA in the U.S., and other government entities around the world.”