A new lawsuit against the Subway fast-food franchise says a lab test showed that its tuna products contain animal proteins such as chicken, pork, and cattle — not the advertised “100 percent tuna.”
Plaintiffs Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin filed the latest lawsuit On Nov. 8 against Subway in San Francisco federal court near their homes in Alameda County. Neither plaintiff has spoken publicly about the case.
The lawsuit relies on testing conducted by a marine biologist of 20 tuna samples taken from 20 Subway restaurants in Southern California.
Results showed that 19 samples had no detectable tuna DNA sequences, while all 20 samples contained detectable chicken, 11 contained pork and seven contained cattle DNA, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint said the testing showed that Subway mislabelled its tuna products and “duped” consumers into paying premium prices. Many people cannot eat various meats because of diet or religious issues.
Since January when the case began, Subway has run TV ads and launched a website defending its tuna. It has also revamped its menu bout not its tuna, saying an upgrade was not needed.
The biggest franchise fast-food chain company in the world, Subway is no stranger to customer lawsuits.
It was sued in 2013 over a slogan the company used to market its signature “footlong” sandwiches. An Australian teen posted a Facebook photo showing that the footlong sandwich he bought was only 11 inches long, not 12. The case was eventually thrown out of court when the plaintiffs tried to settle.
“I say follow the science, and if you follow the science, once tuna is cooked, its DNA becomes denatured, which means when you go to test it, you can’t tell one way or the other,” said Subway CEO John Chidsey. ”People love our tuna. We’re very proud of our tuna, so I think that’s really the end of the story.”
Subway said in a statement said it will seek a dismissal of the “reckless and improper” lawsuit. It said the claims are meritless and that its tuna is 100 percent real, is high-quality premium, and is regulated strictly by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
An earlier complaint stated that Subway tuna salads, sandwiches and wraps were “bereft” of tuna, while an amended complaint said they were not 100-percent sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna.
U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar dismissed the second version last month, saying the plaintiffs did not show they bought Subway tuna based on alleged misrepresentations.
He did not rule on the merits and gave the plaintiffs another chance to make their case.