Thursday, Feb 02, 2023

No tuna DNA in Subway sandwich? Other times food chains got caught in controversy

Do food companies always offer the promised ingredient on the menu? Let's find out

tuna sandwichA lab study said they found no traces of tuna DNA in a sample of Subway's tuna sandwich. (representational, source: pixabay)

The tuna fish used in Subway sandwiches do not have tuna DNA, a lab study has found.

The study was recently commissioned by The New York Times following a January lawsuit that alleged that Subway did not use real tuna fish. They sent “more than 60 inches worth of Subway tuna sandwiches” to a lab for testing. The lab found “no amplifiable tuna DNA” in the sample, as per a document quoted by The Independent.

Responding to the findings, the sandwich chain issued a statement claiming that the study was based on “unreliable methodology”. “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,” read the statement, as quoted by Business Insider.

“DNA testing is simply not a reliable way to identify denatured proteins, like Subway’s tuna, which was cooked before it was tested,” Subway added.

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Another study on the same, initiated by Inside Edition, found traces of tuna DNA. Additionally, the Seafood List says there are 15 types of tuna but the New York Times tested only for five via PCR test.

Do food companies always offer the promised ingredient on the menu? Let’s find out:

Real cheese in Domino’s Pizza?

In 2018, a video — reportedly a sting operation by BBC — raised questions on whether Domino’s India used real cheese. Subsequent reports, however, said that the video was fake. An official statement by Jubilant FoodWorks, which holds the franchise for the pizza chain in India, read, “After an internal investigation, BBC has confirmed to use officially that the said video has never been shot or aired by them”.


The company asserted that both veg and non-veg Domino’s pizzas contained “best quality 100 per cent real mozzarella cheese prepared from real milk”. “All our ingredients including cheese, pizza sauce made from Californian tomatoes, our veg and non-veg topping and fortified wheat flour are of the highest quality and sourced from Food Safety Management System (FSMS) certified vendors,” it added.

Frozen dessert, not real ice cream?

In 2017, an Amul ad got drawn into a controversy after it suggested people should eat real ice cream made from milk rather than a frozen dessert made from ‘vanaspati’. Following the ad, Hindustan Lever, which owns Kwality Walls, filed a case in the Bombay High court against the ad which “disparaged frozen desserts”.


As per Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, ice cream is made with not less than 10 per cent milk fat whereas a frozen dessert is made with vegetable fat. While Amul, Mother Dairy, Hatsun Agro Food Ltd and Havmor make ice cream, others like Kwality Walls make frozen desserts.

Is mayonnaise different from mayo?

You may have an eggless, vegetarian variant at home but is it really mayonnaise?

In 2014, Unilever, which produces ‘Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise’ sued Hampton Creek, makers of ‘Just Mayo’ that contained an egg-free spread. According to The Federal Food and Drug Administration of the US, mayonnaise, by definition, should contain a specific amount of vegetable oil, an acidifying ingredient, and egg yolks. Just Mayo, on the other hand, contains spread made from peas, sorghum and other plants.

Unilever alleged that Hampton Creek’s labels are misleading, pointing to the old, official definition.

According to a McGill University article. Just Mayo maker Josh Tetrick claimed that they did not sell their product as mayonnaise but “just mayo”. Not all consumers, however, know the difference.

Burger King horse meat?


The burger chain caught attention in 2013 after some investigators found their meat suppliers were mixing horse meat which then went into their products. The food chain reportedly switched suppliers thereafter.

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First published on: 24-06-2021 at 20:50 IST
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