Looks like Subway's chicken isn't all it's cracked up to be.
An investigative study by Trent University and CBC News analyzed the DNA content of various chicken patties and chicken items at fast-food restaurants across Canada to see how much of their chicken products actually contained chicken. To their surprise, they discovered that Subway's Oven Roasted Chicken and the chicken strips used in the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki are only about 50% chicken each.
Typically, you're not going to see 100% results for the DNA testing of these products, as marinades, seasonings, batters, and additives will typically cause the DNA count to drop somewhere in the mid to high 80% range. That was the case for all of the other fast food products tested, as they each contained at least 85% chicken DNA per sample.
The Subway chicken did not meet those standards, and was in fact tested a SECOND time to ensure that their DNA analysis was accurate. The Oven-Roasted chicken contained 53.6% chicken DNA on average, and the chicken strips contained around 42.8% chicken DNA — meaning that they are both roughly only 50% chicken.
All of the chicken products from all of the fast food chains, by the way, were shown to contain 25% less protein and 7-10 times MORE salt than a typical chicken breast — a result of the fast food industry adding more flavor and salt to make their chicken tastier, but having to dilute the actual chicken inside as a result to increase shelf life and "add value" to the product.
However, it's important to keep in mind that the products tested were solely those produced and sold in Canada. Since formulations of a particular fast food item can vary from country to country based on different factors, the same chicken items here in the United States may vary in protein content compared to those tested. Similarly, the chicken from Subway could have a higher DNA percentage here in the United States as well and may match the other companies' chicken products more closely. Someone would obviously have to do testing on Subway's US chicken to confirm that, but there's no guarantee that the chicken you're eating here is formulated the same way as the chicken is formulated in Canada.
CBC News reached out to all of the companies tested in the study, and Subway Canada did release a statement regarding the test results:
"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."
Clearly, something is going on, otherwise the chicken content wouldn't be so low. Here's hoping that Subway gets the issue with their chicken products figured out soon so that we can quickly get back to eating chicken that we know to be 100% the real deal.