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Subway Files $210 Million Lawsuit Over Claims Its Chicken Is Half Soy

The chain says a recent CBC report is "100% wrong"

Subway Settles Not-Really Foot Long Sandwich Litigation Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A recent report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation suggested the chicken served at Subway isn’t quite what it seems — and the world’s largest restaurant chain has fired back with a footlong lawsuit, the New York Post reports.

Last month, the news show CBC Marketplace conducted an investigation of chicken products served at various fast-food restaurants; after submitting food samples for DNA testing, it claimed Subway’s chicken only contained about 53 percent actual chicken, with the rest being made up of soy fillers. (Comparatively, a Wendy’s chicken sandwich was found to have around 86 percent chicken, while normal store-bought chicken would be 100 percent meat.)

Subway quickly denounced the CBC’s report as false, claiming it submitted samples to two independent labs that found only trace amounts of soy in the chicken, and demanded the network retract its claims. But Marketplace stood by its story, and now the chain has resorted to legal action, suing for $210 million in damages in a Canadian court.

A Subway spokesperson acknowledged the lawsuit in a statement, saying, “We have issued a Notice of Action in Canada against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that asks for $210 million in damages over allegations made by its program, Marketplace, that are defamatory and absolutely false. Despite our efforts to share the facts with the CBC about the high quality of our chicken and to express our strong objections to their inaccurate claims, they have not issued a retraction, as we requested. Serving high-quality food to our customers is our top priority, and we are committed to seeing that this factually incorrect report is corrected.”

The CBC says it’s received notice of the suit but hasn’t yet been served with Subway’s claims, saying in an email, “We believe our journalism to be sound and there is no evidence that we’ve seen that would lead us to change our position.”

In Canada, unlike in the U.S., plaintiffs don’t have to prove malice or inaccuracy in order to win a defamation lawsuit. However, if the CBC can prove it gathered its information in a “responsible manner,” it can be protected from such a suit even if its claims about Subway’s chicken turn out to be incorrect.

In the meantime, Subway fans wary of its chicken’s authenticity could opt for the chain’s more recently introduced “rotisserie-style” pulled chicken, which contains just chicken, water, and seasonings. Or just eat somewhere else entirely.

Subway Sues TV Network Over ‘Soy Chicken’ Report [New York Post]
Subway Fires Back at Claims Its Chicken Is Actually Half Soy [E]
More Lawsuits Coverage [E]