Subway was sued for allegedly mislabeling its tuna as tuna. The New York Times tried to get to the bottom of the mystery.
A "tuna sandwich" from the fast food chain "Subway" lies on a table. Jörg Carstensen / Getty Images
The New York Times conducted its own analysis following a lawsuit alleging subway tuna was not actually tuna.
The newspaper used a commercial lab to analyze tuna samples purchased in Los Angeles.
The sandwich chain has denied claims that their tuna is not 100% authentic and has called the lawsuit unfounded.
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Earlier this year, Subway faced a lawsuit alleging that its tuna was not tuna.
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The country's largest sandwich chain called the lawsuit meritorious, claiming it only buys skipjack tuna and yellowfin tuna from fisheries with not overfished stocks.
To get to the bottom of the mystery, the New York Times published a report on Sunday containing the results of a commercial laboratory analysis of "60 inch subway tuna sandwiches" bought at three different locations in Los Angeles. The tuna meat was removed, frozen and shipped for testing.
The results: "There was no amplifiable tuna DNA in the sample and we therefore did not receive any amplification products from the DNA," says the email. "That's why we can't identify the species."
A spokesman for the lab told the Times that the results suggested two possible scenarios. "First, it's so processed that whatever we could get out of it, we couldn't identify it. Or we have something and there's just nothing that is tuna," the spokesman said.
Tuna experts also pointed out to The Times that once fish like tuna is cooked, its protein is broken down or denatured, making identification extremely difficult.
The newspaper also notes that it isn't the first to try to figure out if Subway's popular tuna sandwich is actually made up of tuna only. Inside Edition conducted its own investigation in New York and found that the tuna bought in the sandwiches was actually tuna.
Meanwhile, Subway continues to fight a class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alleging that it is making false claims about its tuna meat.
The lawsuit alleges that "independent tests have been repeatedly confirmed". Subway makes the tuna product without real tuna, but did not name the authorities who conducted such tests. The lawsuit also alleges that Subway benefited from mislabeling its tuna products by using cheaper ingredients.
Subway has dismissed the claims as unfounded.
"These claims are unfounded," a Subway spokesman said in a statement to Insider in January. "Tuna is one of our most popular sandwiches. Our restaurants receive 100% wild-caught tuna, mix it with mayonnaise and serve our guests a freshly made sandwich."
"Subway will vigorously defend itself against this and all other baseless efforts to mischaracterize and contaminate the high quality products that Subway and its franchisees offer their customers," the statement said.
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