Health and Medicine

Lawsuit Claims Subway's Tuna Sandwich Doesn't Contain Tuna


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockFeb 1 2021, 10:34 UTC

Subway contests the claim and says their sandwiches contain little more than “pure tuna” and mayo. Image credit: TY Lim/

Sandwich chain Subway is facing a lawsuit alleging that its "tuna" sandwich doesn’t actually contain any tuna, according to the Washington Post. Subway, however, denies this and says their sandwich is made with real, wild-caught tuna. 


The recent lawsuit, filed on January 21 in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses Subway of misleading customers by indicating that certain food items on its menu contain tuna as an ingredient when they allegedly do not. 

The complaint claims to be based on independent lab tests of “multiple samples” taken from Subway stores in California, which they say found the “tuna” sandwich filling was actually “a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna, yet have been blended together by defendants to imitate the appearance of tuna.”

"We found that the ingredients were not tuna and not fish," the attorney of claimants said in an email to the Washington Post.

However, Subway denies the claim and says their tuna sandwiches contain little more than “100 percent wild-caught tuna” and mayo. They also say they intend to fight the lawsuit, dismissing it as a "reckless and improper attack on Subway's brand and goodwill."


"There simply is no truth to the allegations in the complaint that was filed in California," a Subway spokesperson said in a statement to IFLScience. 

"Subway delivers 100 percent cooked tuna to its restaurants, which is mixed with mayonnaise and used in freshly made sandwiches, wraps, and salads that are served to and enjoyed by our guests," they continue. 

"There is no basis in law or fact for the plaintiffs' claims, which are frivolous and are being pursued without adequate investigation," they added. 


Subway previously landed itself in hot water in 2017 after an investigation by CBC Marketplace found their chicken sandwich filling contained only 50 percent chicken DNA. Once again, Subway dismissed these claims as “absolutely false and misleading.” The sandwich giants went on to sue CBC for defamation and sought $210 million in damages, but their lawsuit failed and they were ordered to pay the Canadian TV company $500,000 in legal costs.

Beyond this lawsuit, mislabelled seafood is a surprisingly prevalent problem. In 2019, scientists used DNA analysis to show that 25 percent of seafood samples collected in the Canadian city of Vancouver belonged to a different species than their seller claimed. Restaurants were the worst offenders, followed by grocers, then sushi restaurants. 

Sometimes, it might not even be clear that what species the fish is. Scientists discovered in 2019 that people in Australia may have been eating a species of fish that was previously unknown to science. An expert from Queensland Museum came across photographs of a mysterious grouper fish and decided to investigate. He eventually discovered that the species – later named Epinephelus fuscomarginatus – was new to science and had never been formally described.

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