Way back in January, fast food chain Subway was slapped with a lawsuit in California alleging that their tuna salad, a long-standing staple of their menu, actually contains no traces of marine life, let alone any tuna. Naturally, Subway denied the allegations, prompting various interested parties to perform detailed investigations into the matter, including lab tests of the tuna in question. The Washington Post funded a lab test at the time that came back inconclusive, but thanks to a new test funded by The New York Times, we may have a more conclusive answer.
A reporter for the Times obtained samples of Subway tuna from three different Subway locations around Los Angeles and submitted them to a commercial food tester for analysis. After the tests, a spokesperson from the lab wrote the Times with their findings.
“No amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample and so we obtained no amplification products from the DNA,” the spokesperson wrote. “Therefore, we cannot identify the species.”
“There’s two conclusions,” the spokesperson continued. “One, it’s so heavily processed that whatever we could pull out, we couldn’t make an identification. Or we got some and there’s just nothing there that’s tuna.”
New study fails to find any tuna DNA inside Subway tuna sandwich: “We cannot identify the species.” https://t.co/ADSNyeocXB
— Complex (@Complex) June 22, 2021
According to Subway’s menu, their tuna is supposed to be flaked tuna in brine, mayonnaise and a flavor-preserving additive. If these results are accurate, however, then the original point of the lawsuit, which is that California residents Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin “were tricked into buying food items that wholly lacked the ingredients they reasonably thought they were purchasing,” may actually hold some water.
Subway has continued to deny the allegations, insisting that all of their tuna is the genuine, wild-caught article. In fairness, previous tests conducted elsewhere have claimed that the tuna is, in fact, tuna, so either some stores are selling some manner of tuna hodge-podge and others aren’t, or there’s something fishy going on here.