Subway Not Chickening Out: Blasts 'Stunningly Flawed' DNA Test Calling Its Chicken Half Soy

How can you tell these tomatoes were sliced fresh today? ‘Cuz they're from Subway. 😄

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Mega fast food chain Subway has a bone to "peck" with CBC News and the broadcast company's recent report on its show "Marketplace." In late February, CBC published an investigation that revealed the DNA analysis of poultry across several fast food restaurants.

The results? While brands such as McDonald's and Wendy's scored about 85 and 89 percent chicken in their popular sandwich products, CBC stated the "Eat Fresh" icon's chicken is, well, only 50 percent chicken. The rest, they claimed, is soy. And alarmed Subway fans definitely said what the cluck in response to these findings.

Perhaps CBC shouldn't count their chickens before they hatch because Subway's is fighting back. The sandwich chain said the report was "false and misleading" in an email release. Two independent laboratories, one in Canada and one in the United States, found that Subway's Canadian chicken products only showed trace amounts of soy, contradicting the assertions made by the Canadian television show "Marketplace."

"The stunningly flawed test by 'Marketplace' is a tremendous disservice to our customers. The safety, quality, and integrity of our food is the foundation of our business. That's why we took extra caution to test and retest the chicken," Subway President and CEO Suzanne Greco said. "Our customers can have confidence in our food. The allegation that our chicken is only 50 percent chicken is 100 percent wrong."

Since the CBC test results went out, the restaurant group attempted to reach out to Marketplace and the lab that performed the test to ask about their methodology and process, but they did not receive further engagement besides receiving the results. After sending samples to Maxxam Analytics in Canada and Elisa Technologies, Inc., in Florida and discovering that those findings uncovered less than 1 percent of soy — "consistent with the low levels of soy protein that we add with the spices and marinade to keep the products moist and flavorful" — Subway is demanding an apology and retraction from CBC.

Still, CBC is standing by its report. Trent University Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory DNA researcher Matt Harnden tested six popular chicken sandwiches. In Subway's case, CBC "Marketplace" tested three samples from Subway, two from Subway's oven-roasted chicken and one from their chicken strips, which were then broken down into three smaller samples. All were individually tested, then tested again.

The results varied so greatly from the other sandwich brands that the lab tested 10 new Subway samples from multiple locations across Southern Ontario. The average results were 53.6 percent chicken DNA for the oven-roasted product and 42.8 percent for the chicken strips.

CBC posted all of its DNA data in a follow-up report, adding that only Subway had significant levels of plant DNA and that the brand declined to speak with "Marketplace" about the topic on camera. 

"DNA tests do not lie (especially when conducted multiple times), and anyone with access to a DNA laboratory could perform these tests," University of Guelph food scientist Benjamin Bohrer wrote.

The last thing Subway needs is another scandal after its rough comeback these last few years. In an effort to keep things fresh (and instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off), the chain posted an in-depth letter to its customers with links to DNA analyses, as well.

"Producing high-quality food for our customers is our highest priority. We've always known our chicken is 100-percent real chicken," the company said. Read More