It just may come to pass that we’ll find out if there’s something fishy about the tuna in Subway restaurants. If you’ll recall, allegations have plagued the restaurant chain that the tuna used in their sandwiches isn’t actually tuna. A lawsuit was filed against Subway regarding this claim, and it was anyone’s guess as to whether or not the court system would allow it to proceed. The answer isn’t one that’s going to make the company very happy.
On July 7th, a U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar allowed the lawsuit to continue against Subway. The lawsuit was originally filed by a customer turned plaintiff, Nilima Amin. Amin’s lawsuit alleges the tuna isn’t tuna.
Certain elements certainly don’t appear good for Subway, but there’s still a lot more fact-finding to do. Particularly damning is the implication from test results that there is no tuna DNA in the tuna. This isn’t an allegation the company has taken lightly, as they went ahead and dedicated a part of their website to advocating for their tuna, and trying to dispel myths and misinformation about it.
Subway claimed the cooking process can “destroy the DNA in tuna.” That could be true, we’re not DNA experts. Heck, even the DNA experts in “Jurassic Park” missed out on that whole, hermaphroditic frog thing. But can cooking cause the tuna to transform into pork, beef, or chicken? Because that’s what a UCLA lab found in the tuna. Across 19 samples, they didn’t find any tuna DNA, but did find other meat products.
So while we’re willing to accept that DNA could be destroyed by cooking, we’re a bit less likely to believe tuna DNA can be cooked into pork. It seems like Judge Tigar may have also felt this was grounds for further action.
The judge did throw out part of the lawsuit, while making some clarifications. Apparently Amin was claiming tuna should be 100% tuna and nothing else. Judge Tigar disagreed, and stated it was perfectly reasonable to assume Subway’s tuna would contain things like mayonnaise and bread. You know, since it is in fact a restaurant making tuna sandwiches.
“Although it is possible that Subway’s explanations are the correct ones, it is also possible that these allegations refer to ingredients that a reasonable consumer would not reasonably expect to find in a tuna product,” as the judge put it.
This is where the validity of the lawsuit holds up. If you’re ordering tuna that is advertised as such, and instead you’re getting something that is made up of pork, chicken, beef, or a combination thereof, that is not a reasonable expectation. If Subway is indeed misleading people about what’s in their tuna, then it warrants being called out and the facts brought to light. The world has seen its fair share of frivolous lawsuits, but potentially being lied to about what you’re eating arguably does not fall into that category.
Subway is adamant their tuna is ‘real.’ This could actually turn out to be legitimately interesting if it proceeds without a non-disclosed settlement. Maybe this is the one time where a company would actually want there to be something fishy about their product.