The fast-food restaurant chain Subway claims its chicken sandwiches are made with 100 percent white meat chicken, but a new report disputes that, finding chicken strips contain only half chicken DNA, and sometimes less.
A report funded by CBC, a Canadian news outlet, found the oven roasted chicken to contain 53.6 percent chicken DNA, and the chicken strips with 42.8 percent chicken DNA. The remainder? Soy.
CBC noted that processing, seasoning or marinating meat can bring it down from its 100 percent chicken DNA mark.
Subway fiercely denied the findings, conducted by a DNA researcher at Trent University, and is demanding a retraction.
"The accusations made by CBC Marketplace about the content of our chicken are absolutely false and misleading," Subway spokesman Kevin Kane told Consumer Affairs. "Our chicken is 100 percent white meat with seasonings, marinated and delivered to our stores as a finished, cooked product."
And in a statement to CBC, Subway questioned the validity of the findings, saying its chicken products contain only 1 percent or less of soy protein, used to "help stabilize the texture and moisture." Subway added it plans to look into the issue with its supplier.
In its product ingredients guide, Subway Canada lists soy protein as an ingredient in the chicken patty, as well as water, seasoning and sodium phosphates. Chicken strips contain a soy protein concentrate, modified potato starch, sodium phosphate, potassium chloride, salt, maltodextrin, yeast extract, and flavors and spices.
In the United States, Subway adds additional "chicken flavor," potato starch and carrageenan, made from seaweed, in its chicken breast patty. The strips contain "2 percent or less soy protein concentrate."
CBC's research also found Subway's product to contain significantly less chicken DNA than other fast-food restaurants tested. McDonald's grilled chicken averaged 84.9 percent chicken DNA, and Wendy's grilled chicken had about 88.5 percent chicken DNA.
For consumers with a soy allergy, these findings could present a health issue.
According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), soybean allergies are among the more common food allergies, especially among children, though it's often outgrown between the ages of 3 and 10.
In short, it's a byproduct of the soybean, a legume mainly grown in the U.S. and South America. Isolated from other parts of the bean, soy protein isolate is injected into chicken breasts, cold cuts and other processed meats to give it a juicy, chewy consistency.