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Subway Asks for Tuna Lawsuit to be Tossed

— July 28, 2021

Subway says the tuna lawsuit brought against it is ridiculous.

In a new court filing, Subway has asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit alleging the popular restaurant chain has been deceiving customers about the content of its tuna sandwiches, wraps, and salads.  The lawsuit was filed in January by Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin who originally claimed its tuna products are “completely bereft of tuna and concocted to imitate the appearance of tuna so Subway could charge premium prices.”  The proposed class action would affect California consumers of Subway tuna products after Jan. 20, 2017.

Subway has also asked that the plaintiffs’ attorneys to receive sanctions, saying their suit is “frankly, outrageous.”  Its filing contends the plaintiffs “offered no facts to support their frivolous claim that the products did not contain 100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna” or might have contained tuna “from anything less than healthy stocks, for example Albacore and Tongol.”  An amended complaint was filed by the plaintiffs in June eliminating the “no tuna” assertion, but maintaining that the chain used “malicious labeling, marketing, and advertising of its tuna products [that] was false and misleading.”

Subway Asks for Tuna Lawsuit to be Tossed
Photo by Ola Mishchenko on Unsplash

Subway said the negative media attention has hurt franchisee sales.  A spokeswoman said, “The taste and quality of our tuna make it one of Subway’s most popular products and these baseless accusations threaten to damage our franchisees.  Given the facts, the lawsuit constitutes a reckless and improper attack on Subway’s brand and goodwill.”

The court filing states further, “While Subway has offered the plaintiffs’ and their counsel a graceful exit from the morass, they had created by simply dismissing their claims with prejudice and issuing a public apology, they have instead doubled down on their destructive behavior with new, equally unsupportable claims.”

Several sandwich artisans either currently or formerly employed at a franchise location have indicated that the tuna comes bagged and is frozen.  When thawed, it can be used for up to three days.  Many have stood by the restaurant, indicating the ingredients are right on the package, and that they don’t believe Subway would intentionally mislabel its products.

In June, a New York Times article contended that a lab analysis was performed, and the results of the product’s content came back as unidentifiable.  “No amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample and so we obtained no amplification products from the DNA,” the email detailing the results read. “Therefore, we cannot identify the species.”  When asked for more information, a spokesperson for the lab responded, “There’s two conclusions.  One, it’s so heavily processed that whatever we could pull out, we couldn’t make an identification.  Or we got some and there’s just nothing there that’s tuna.”

On the other hand, three separate analyses performed in Queens, New York on behalf Inside Edition came back positive for tuna.  And, in general, the more processed the meat is, the harder it is to discern its contents.  It’s also nearly impossible to do so after the meat has been cooked.  Just the fact that the plaintiffs updated their filing from alleging there was no meat at all to arguing it isn’t “100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna” significantly changes their original argument.  And, so, the saga continues.


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