Study Claims Subway’s Oven-Roasted Chicken Is Only 50 Percent Chicken, According to DNA Test

 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Not so fresh? A DNA test reportedly showed that Subway’s oven-roasted chicken breast is only 50 percent chicken, according to a Canadian study.

On behalf of CBC Marketplace, DNA researcher Matt Harnden of Trent University’s Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory tested the poultry in popular chicken sandwiches from various fast-food chains, including Subway, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, A&W and Tim Hortons.

In his findings, Harnden discovered that most of the sandwiches’ chicken content scored close to 100 percent — except for Subway’s. After taking biopsies of five oven-roasted chicken breasts, Harnden assessed that the meat was 53.6 percent chicken. According to his test, the remaining portions of the chicken breasts were comprised of soy.

Harnden also tested Subway’s Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki strips, which allegedly came in at an even lower score. After taking biopsies of five strips, he reportedly found that they were only 42.8 percent chicken and 58.2 percent soy.

The sandwich chain vehemently refuted the results of the DNA test in a statement released on Monday, February 27.

“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,” the statement read. “Our chicken strips and oven roasted chicken contain 1 percent 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 percent 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.”

In similar tests performed by Harnden, Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich reportedly averaged 88.5 percent chicken, while McDonald’s Grilled Country Chicken allegedly averaged 84.9 percent. A&W’s Chicken Grill Deluxe averaged 89.4 percent chicken DNA and Tim Hortons’ Chipotle Chicken Grilled Wrap averaged 86.5 percent chicken DNA.

While Tim Hortons and A&W have yet to respond to Harnden’s study, both Wendy’s and McDonald’s denied the results.

“Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich is a whole muscle chicken breast fillet; not reformed or restructured. In addition, we use only 100 percent Canadian chicken in Canada,” the company wrote. “For our grilled chicken sandwich and other grilled chicken products (salads, wraps, etc.) we use a juicy, all-white meat chicken breast fillet, marinated in a blend of herbs. We do not provide ingredient percentages as we consider that information to be proprietary.”

Mickey D’s also insisted that their chicken is the real deal: “Our grilled chicken sandwich is made with 100 percent seasoned chicken breast. The chicken breast is (a single piece) trimmed for size to fit the sandwich. We don’t release the percentage of each ingredient for competitive reasons, but on the nutrition center people can see that our grilled chicken includes seasoning and other ingredients, just like at home.”

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