CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, with its “Marketplace” program recently had a lab analyze chicken meat and strips cooked in popular fast-food chains. Subway meat, the report indicated, showed significant amounts of non-chicken DNA, instead up to 50 percent from soy. Chicken from other fast-food chains, such as McDonald’s and Tim Hortons, did not have such high levels of plant DNA.
Subway responded Wednesday condemning the news report, stating that “The accusations made by CBC Marketplace about the content of our chicken are absolutely false and misleading,” Subway spokesman Kevin Kane writes in an email to ConsumerAffairs. “Our chicken is 100% white meat with seasonings, marinated and delivered to our stores as a finished, cooked product.”
Subway seems to be willing to take up the fight over its reputation – departing from previous comments the sandwich chain made to CBC, suggesting suggesting that a supplier could be to blame and admitting to use small amounts of soy in its chicken products, as: “Our recipe calls for one per cent or less of soy protein in our chicken products. We will look into this again with our supplier to ensure that the chicken is meeting the high standard we set for all of our menu items and ingredients.”
In reaction to the CBC tests and accusation, Subway hired two analytical laboratories to independently test pieces of the sandwich chicken from Canada. These tests suggested that plant protein was less than 10 parts per million, or below 1 percent of the sample, Subway said in Wednesday’s statement. Subway explained the actual existence of soy DNA in its chicken products by: “These findings are consistent with the low levels of soy protein that we add with the spices and marinade to help keep the products moist and flavorful.” Based on these laboratory finding, Subway indeed demanded a retraction.
Overall this case is interesting as it really touches the heart of the Subway brand, and you can easily understand why Subway has decided to take up this fight for consumer’s trust. If you know Subway, you know that its brand is all about transparency (as you can observe every sandwich production step by step) and its UPS is all about trust in production and ingredients (which eventually people would relate to healthy consumption – “EAT FRESH”!). But after all, the CBC reports have quickly made their way into international media – including the Daily Mail, Washington Post and many more (and not all of them actually cover Subway’s own research). So Subway really is fighting for the core of its brand’s reputation. I’ll keep an eye on the case – and hope you do too!