Americans might remember the case against the Taco Bell Beefy Crunchy Burrito where the allegation was that the taco filling contained less than 35% beef, below the ridiculous low USDA standard that taco filling "must contain at least 40 percent fresh meat."
By those standards, the chicken at Subway Canada is "meaty" by comparison.
Marketplace, a CBC-TV investigative show, conducted research on fast food chicken in Canada. The other major fast food chicken scored between 84.9% chicken DNA (McDonald's Country Chicken) to 89.4% chicken DNA (A&W Chicken Grill Deluxe). Tim Hortons Chipotle Chicken Grilled Wrap (86.5%) and Wendy's Grilled Chicken Sandwich (88.5%) were the other major contenders.
The Subway samples scored considerably lower than the others; the Marketplace team got more Subway chicken to sample.
Marketplace sampled the Subway Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich: its average chicken DNA was 53.6%. The average of the Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki chicken strips was 42.8% chicken DNA.
With other ingredients and marinating, 100% isn't viable. The other major fast food chicken scored in a reasonable range. The Subway chicken ended up with a lot of soy, according to the Marketplace research.
Still better than the Taco Bell taco filling allegations but not likely what Canadians want in their fast food chicken.
"SUBWAY Canada cannot confirm the veracity of the results of the lab testing you had conducted. However, we are concerned by the alleged findings you cite with respect to the proportion of soy content. Our chicken strips and oven roasted chicken contain 1% or less of soy protein. We use this ingredient in these products as a means to help stabilize the texture and moisture. All of our chicken items are made from 100% white meat chicken which is marinated, oven roasted and grilled. We tested our chicken products recently for nutritional and quality attributes and found it met our food quality standards. 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." — Statement from Subway Canada to Marketplace
Subway Canada says it plans to sue the CBC for $210 million. The company issued its own tests after the Marketplace finding, though those findings did not address the issue of chicken DNA. CBC posted its findings online on the tests.
The CBC television show noted that the fast food chicken overall had about 25% less protein than in a home-cooked equivalent and 7-10 times the sodium levels of pure chicken.
Registered dietitian Christy Brissette noted on the show that most of the fillers are variations on salt or sugar. The sugar adds carbohydrates to a product that, unadulterated, has 0% carbohydrates.
The show pointed out that the soy protein filler and other fillers were designed to bring the cost of the product down. You think you are getting chicken in your fast food chicken or beef in your fast food taco filling. They start with 100% chicken or 100% beef but starting isn't finishing.
Fast food in the United States and Canada is a game. We will trick you into thinking you are eating what you think you are getting. You will get us not too much money for stuff that contains food.
As long as you know fast food is a game, then you know the rules. If you are going to do fast food, know the rules. Or pick places that are less likely to play the game.
The 4 people the show gathered as taste testers were fast food aficionados. They seemed surprised that what they were getting was not 100% chicken. Those who frequent fast food the most should be the ones that really know how the fast food game is played.
The best way to "Eat Fresh" is to buy quality ingredients and make them yourself. The home-cooked chicken scored best among the taste testing. The chef used a few herbs and some salt. No carbohydrates, no fillers, no soy. Just chicken and spices.
photo credit: Marketplace/CBC