Subway says the drama surrounding the New York Times' tuna story is based on a misunderstanding

·2-min read
Subway says the drama surrounding the New York Times' tuna story is based on a misunderstanding
Subway tuna sandwich
Subway tuna sandwich. Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Image
  • The NYT published a report stating that it found no tuna DNA in Subway tuna sandwiches.

  • Subway called the method unreliable and maintains that it serves 100% tuna.

  • Subway's tuna is also the subject of a California lawsuit.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Subway fired back after accusations that its tuna sandwiches do not actually contain tuna.

"A recent New York Times report indicates that DNA testing is an unreliable methodology for identifying processed tuna. This report supports and reflects the position that Subway has taken in relation to a meritless lawsuit filed in California and with respect to DNA testing as a means to identify cooked proteins," the sandwich chain said in a statement. "DNA testing is simply not a reliable way to identify denatured proteins, like Subway's tuna, which was cooked before it was tested."

Read more: Inside the 2 secretive billionaire families that own Subway, as they face backlash from furious franchisees

The response comes after a January lawsuit alleged that Subway mislabeled tuna, and it did not contain actual tuna fish. On Sunday, The New York Times published a report after testing tuna from three different Subway locations.

"No amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample and so we obtained no amplification products from the DNA. Therefore, we cannot identify the species," the lab told The Times in an email, noting that cooking the fish can make the tuna DNA difficult or even impossible to identify.

Subway said as much in its statement, posted online.

"Unfortunately, various media outlets have confused the inability of DNA testing to confirm a specific protein with a determination that the protein is not present," it reads. "The testing that the New York Times report references does not show that there is not tuna in Subway's tuna. All it says is that the testing could not confirm tuna, which is what one would expect from a DNA test of denatured proteins."

The chain says it serves "100% wild-caught, cooked tuna" mixed with mayonnaise. Subway also says tuna is one of its most popular sandwich fillings.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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