Subway’s Tuna Sandwiches Don’t Actually Contain Tuna, Lawsuit Claims

Subway’s Tuna Sandwiches Don’t Actually Contain Tuna, Lawsuit Claims
A footlong sandwich in a Subway restaurant in Miami, FL., on Oct. 21, 2015. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Isabel van Brugen

The ingredient billed as “tuna” in Subway’s sandwiches and wraps is “made from anything but tuna,” a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last week claims.

The suit, filed by Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin of Alameda County, alleges that the “tuna” sold at the popular sandwich chain is in fact a “mixture of various concoctions.”

Dhanowa and Amin claim they conducted independent lab tests of “multiple samples” of tuna from a number of California Subway locations, and results show the ingredient is “a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna, yet have been blended together by defendants to imitate the appearance of tuna,” according to the complaint.

An attorney for the pair, Shalini Dogra, did not elaborate on what specific ingredients were revealed in the lab tests.

“We found that the ingredients were not tuna and not fish,” the attorney told The Washington Post.

Subway has denied the claims, stating in a press release that the sandwich chain serves 100 percent wild-caught tuna.

A stock photo of a Subway. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A stock photo of a Subway. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
“There simply is no truth to the allegations in the complaint that was filed in California. Subway delivers 100 [percent] cooked tuna to its restaurants, which is mixed with mayonnaise and used in freshly made sandwiches, wraps, and salads that are served to and enjoyed by our guests,” a spokesperson for Subway said in a statement.

“The taste and quality of our tuna make it one of Subway’s most popular products and these baseless accusations threaten to damage our franchisees, small business owners who work tirelessly to uphold the high standards that Subway sets for all of its products, including its tuna.

“Given the facts, the lawsuit constitutes a reckless and improper attack on Subway’s brand and goodwill, and on the livelihood of its California franchisees.

“Indeed, there is no basis in law or fact for the plaintiffs’ claims, which are frivolous and are being pursued without adequate investigation.”

The spokesperson added, “Unfortunately, this lawsuit is part of a trend in which the named plaintiffs’ attorneys have been targeting the food industry in an effort to make a name for themselves in that space.”

The pair are suing Subway for fraud, intentional misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and other civil violations, claiming that they “were tricked into buying food items that wholly lacked the ingredients they reasonably thought they were purchasing,” based on the chain’s advertising and marketing of the product.

Subway “is saving substantial sums of money in manufacturing the products because the fabricated ingredient they use in the place of tuna costs less money,” the complaint alleges.

If certified as a class-action, the lawsuit could potentially represent thousands of people who purchased tuna sandwiches or wraps from the chain after January 21, 2017, in California.

The current lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorneys’ fees.