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Lawsuit Over Subway Tuna Now Alleges the Meat Contains Chicken, Pork and Cattle DNA

The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages for fraud and violations of California consumer-protection laws.

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According to a new version of a lawsuit that claims Subway has misrepresented its tuna products to customers, lab testing reveals that the franchise's "100% tuna" actually contains animal proteins including chicken, pork and cattle DNA. 

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

A marine biologist tested 20 tuna samples taken from 20 Subway restaurants in southern California, finding that 19 samples had "no detectable tuna DNA sequences.” All 20 contained detectable chicken DNA, 11 contained pork DNA and seven contained cattle DNA. 

The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages for fraud and violations of California consumer-protection laws.

The class-action lawsuit was initally filed in California in January of this year, with plaintiffs Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin claiming that fast-food giant's tuna product is an "entirely non-tuna based mixture that Defendants blended to resemble tuna and imitate its texture." 

Subway has denied the allegations and seeks to dismiss the lawsuit. The company even launched a website to debunk "the reckless complaint that spurred this misinformation."

Related: Subway Has a Track Record of Handling Its Business Crises Poorly. Here's What You Can Learn From the Chain's Shortcomings.

The site states that although The New York Times reported that Subway's tuna wasn't actually tuna after a commissioned test found no tuna DNA in the sample, scientific experts say that can happen when testing cooked tuna — and doesn't necessarily mean the fish isn't present. 

While the first complaint alleged that Subway tuna salads, sandwiches and wraps were "bereft" of tuna, an amended one claimed that the company didn't use 100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna in the product.

But Subway continues to stand by its "100% tuna" claim. "The truth is, Subway uses wild-caught skipjack tuna regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)," the company's site reads. "A favorite among sub lovers, our tuna is and has always been high-quality, premium and 100% real." 

The second version of the complaint was dismissed last month; U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar said that the plaintiffs did not show they bought Subway tuna based on alleged misrepresentations. 

Related: Subway Is Overhauling Its Entire Menu

The plaintiffs will have another opportunity to present their case. 

Amanda Breen

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Amanda Breen is an editorial assistant at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate of Barnard College and recently completed the MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts during the 2020-2021 academic year.