Subway calls ongoing tuna litigation ‘a reckless and improper attack’


MIAMI, FL – OCTOBER 21: A Subway restaurant is seen as the company announced a settlement over a class-action lawsuit that alleged that Subway engaged in deceptive marketing for its 6-inch and 12-inch sandwiches and served customers less food than they were paying for on October 21, 2015 in Miami, Florida. While it denies the claims, Subway said that franchisees would be required to have a measurement tool in stores to make sure loaves are 12-inches. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(ABC4) – Subway is calling the ongoing litigation over its tuna “a reckless and improper attack” on its brand and “goodwill.”

In January, two people filed a lawsuit in California alleging Subway’s tuna does “not contain tuna nor have any ingredient that constitutes tuna.”

Plaintiffs Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin claimed they were “tricked” into buying mislabeled food and that an independent lab tested “multiple samples” and determined that “the ingredients were not tuna and not fish,” attorney Shalini Dogra told The Washington Post in an email.

In June, the New York Times reported a commercial lab found no identifiable tuna DNA in Subway’s sandwiches.

The newspaper had 60 inches of tuna sandwiches from three different Subway locations in Los Angeles tested. The “tuna” was removed, frozen, and sent to an unidentified commercial food testing lab.

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

In response, Subway denied the allegations, saying in part, “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.”

Since the New York Times report, Subway has had a notice posted on its website that the report “indicates that DNA testing is an unreliable methodology for identifying processed tuna.” The restaurant also defends its tuna, saying it serves “100% wild-caught, cooked tuna.”

When Subway launched a menu update in July, the chain “improved” its other protein choices but kept its “100% wild-caught tuna.”

As of Aug. 16, the notice has been updated to say the plaintiffs in the California lawsuit “abandoned their original claim that Subway’s tuna product does not contain tuna.” Instead, Subway says the plaintiffs’ lawyer has filed an amended complaint alleging its tuna product is not 100% tuna and is not sustainably caught.

Subway says this claim is “untrue.” Court records show Subway’s legal team has called for the case to be dismissed.

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