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Subway's tuna sandwiches don't actually contain tuna, lawsuit claims

Two customers allege that Subway's tuna sandwiches aren't actually made with tuna, but a "mixture of various concoctions."
Subway denies any claims that its tuna sandwiches don't contain tuna.
Subway denies any claims that its tuna sandwiches don't contain tuna.Subway
/ Source: TODAY

A new lawsuit filed against a popular sandwich chain gives new meaning to the term "mystery meat."

Subway, a company known for its footlong subs, is facing claims that its tuna sandwiches and wraps don't actually contain any tuna at all, as first reported by The Washington Post.

The complaint, filed on Jan. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, names two plaintiffs who allege that they “were tricked into buying food items that wholly lacked the ingredients they reasonably thought they were purchasing.”

Alameda County residents Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin are suing Subway for several claims including fraud, intentional misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. According to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by TODAY Food, the plaintiffs claim that an independent testing of the sandwich ingredients confirmed that the "products are made from anything but tuna."

"On the contrary, the Products are made from a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna, yet have been blended together by Defendants to imitate the appearance of tuna," the lawsuit continues.

Subway, however, stands by its products and denies the claims.

“There simply is no truth to the allegations in the complaint that was filed in California. Subway delivers 100% cooked tuna to its restaurants, which is mixed with mayonnaise and used in freshly made sandwiches, wraps and salads that are served to and enjoyed by our guests," a Subway spokesperson told TODAY.

According to the Subway website, the chain's classic tuna sandwich contains "flaked tuna blended with creamy mayo" and is served on freshly baked bread then topped with your choice of fresh vegetables. The spokesperson explained that tuna is one of Subway's most popular products and said that franchisees work "work tirelessly to uphold the high standards that Subway sets for all of its products, including its tuna."

"Subway will vigorously defend itself against these and any other baseless efforts to mischaracterize and tarnish the high-quality products that Subway and its franchisees provide to their customers, in California and around the world, and intends to fight these claims through all available avenues if they are not immediately dismissed,” the statement continued.

As part of the case, the two plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages and punitive damages plus attorneys' fees. They are also asking Subway to stop allegedly mislabeling its tuna sandwiches and forfeit any profits the company might have earned from doing so.

Alex J. Brown, a managing attorney of business litigation at Lanier Law Firm, told TODAY the firm is looking forward to representing the plaintiffs, offering the following statement: "The firm’s litigation team and its supporting counsel are currently in the initial stages of litigation and preparing for an April court appearance, where Honorable Donna Ryu will set a trial date."

Like many major chains, Subway has faced a series of lawsuits over the years. In 2013, a Chicago man sued the restaurant over the length of its footlong subs, claiming a sub he ordered was only 11 inches long. The same year, two New Jersey men also filed similar complaints. A U.S. appeals court ultimately threw out the class-action settlement.

Most recently, Subway made headlines when the Irish Supreme Court ruled that the restaurant's sub rolls are too sugary to be considered bread. The decision came about after a Subway franchisee tried to challenge a takeout food tax. A Subway spokesperson told TODAY at the time, "Subway’s bread is, of course, bread."

Diana Dasrath contributed.