Tuna in the subway does not contain DNA for tuna, the lawsuit claims

Pescatarians may want to avoid eating Subway’s tuna, if one is to believe the claims in one revived the lawsuit that questioned the ingredients in the restaurant chain’s seafood.

Nineteen of 20 tuna samples from Subway outlets across Southern California contained animal protein including chicken, pork or cattle, but no visible tuna DNA, according to the latest complaint filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in California.

Subway dismissed the claims in the amended lawsuit, the third filed this year, as “meritless” and defended its fish as “high quality, wild-caught, 1[ads1]00% tuna”. The company’s lawyers are in the process of reviewing the claim and plan to file a new motion to dismiss what they called a “ruthless and inappropriate lawsuit.”

A federal judge dismissed a revised complaint in October, ruling that the plaintiffs had not shown that they bought Subway tuna products based on misrepresentations from the chain. The judge did not comment on the ingredients themselves.

The complaint filed on Monday includes findings based on DNA tests from Barber Lab at UCLA’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. In addition to finding “no detectable tuna DNA sequences whatsoever” in 19 of the samples, all 20 had “detectable sequences of chicken DNA”, according to the complaint. Eleven samples contained pork DNA and seven cattle DNA, results that contradict Subway’s marketing claims, it said.

“The defendant does not take adequate measures to control or prevent the known risk of counterfeiting the tuna products,” according to the archive. “They actively perpetuate actions and steps that encourage mixing or allowing non-tuna ingredients to enter tuna products.”

Trial over Subway’s tuna sandwiches


T-tuna have been taken to the laboratory before. A New York Times analysis in June found “no amplifiable tuna DNA” in the sample, but reasoned that it was treated to the point that equipment may not read the species involved. Inside Edition found tuna in tuna samples from three Subway locations.

Subway has defended its tuna in public opinion since earlier this year, and has even launched a website dedicated to refuting any concerns about the tuna.

The case is not the first legal dispute that has raised questions about Subway’s products. Supreme Court of Ireland last year ruled that the bread Subway uses in its sandwiches could not legally be called bread in that country due to its high sugar content. And in the US in 2017, an appeals court dropped a class action lawsuit alleging that the chain’s “foot-long subs” were an inch shy of the advertised length.

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