Subway Sued After Tuna Salad Allegedly Revealed to Not Contain Fish

The ingredients for the tuna salad Subway uses for its sandwiches and wraps probably do not call the ocean home, a new lawsuit alleges. Two California residents are suing the chain in federal court, claiming that independent lab tests show the tuna is "made from anything but tuna." Subway dismissed the claims, insisting its tuna is real and wild-caught.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims the "tuna" Subway uses has no real tuna. The plaintiffs, Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin of Alameda County claim they had independent lab tests done for "multiple samples" of sandwiches and salads from Subway locations in California. The "tuna" is really a mix of "various concoctions that do not constitute tuna, yet have been blended by defendants to imitate the appearance of tuna," the complaint alleges. "We found that the ingredients were not tuna and not fish," an attorney for the plaintiffs told the Washington Post Thursday. However, the complaint did not say what exactly the ingredients the lab tests found in the food.

Dhanowa and Amin want the claim to be labeled a class action lawsuit, so it could cover Subway customers in California who purchased tuna wraps and sandwiches after Jan. 21, 2017. The plaintiffs accused Subway of fraud, intentional misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and other federal and state law violations. They "were tricked into buying food items that wholly lacked the ingredients they reasonably thought they were purchasing," based on Subway's advertising, they claimed.

Subway also saves "substantial sums of money" by making the "tuna" product instead of using real tuna, the lawsuit alleges. "Consumers are consistently misled into purchasing the products for the commonly known and/or advertised benefits and characteristics of tuna when in fact no such benefits could be had, given that the products are in fact devoid of tuna," the lawsuit reads.

According to Subway's website, the tuna salad used in its sandwiches is "flaked" and "blended with creamy mayo then topped with your choice of crisp, fresh veggies." "Tuna is one of our most popular sandwiches. Our restaurants receive pure tuna, mix it with mayonnaise and serve on a freshly made sandwich to our guests," Katia Noll, senior director for global food safety and quality at Subway, told the Post.

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Subway has been the target of several lawsuits in the U.S. and abroad. In 2013, plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming the $5 foot-long sandwiches were up to a full inch short, but the lawsuit was tossed out in a Chicago federal court. In October 2020, an Irish court ruled that Subway's bread could not be officially considered "bread" because of its high sugar count as part of a battle over taxes. "Subway's bread is, of course, bread," a Subway spokesperson told The Guardian.