Subway ‘Tuna’ Not Being Tuna Debacle Is Finally Closed

by : Poppy Bilderbeck on : 09 Oct 2021 10:21
Subway Tuna Lawsuit Dismissed - Alamy Alamy

A hot debate over whether Subway’s ‘tuna’ is really tuna at all has just been closed. 

After lab analysis of a number of Subway‘s tuna sandwiches failed to identify any fish DNA, a pair of residents of Alameda County in the Bay Area sued the sandwich chain in January.


They lodged the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, over claims including fraud, intentional misrepresentation and unjust enrichment, among other California state laws.

Subway - Alamy Alamy

However, the lawsuit has since been dismissed by a judge, but not because of the contents of the sandwich being proven to actually be real fish.

Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin were branded by the judge as not meeting the legal standards to sue Subway, The Washington Post reports.


The lawsuit began when ‘multiple samples’ of the tuna purchased from a branch of the chain in California were sent for independent lab testing.

The results of the testing showed the samples to be ‘a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna, yet have been blended together by defendants to imitate the appearance of tuna.’

At the time, Subway dismissed the claims as ‘baseless’ and declared the tuna was in fact, ‘100% wild-caught’.

Subway Tuna - Berlin, Germany. 29th Jan, 2021. ILLUSTRATION - A "Tuna Sandwich" from the fast food chain "Subway" lies on a table. (posed scene) Credit: Jörg Carstensen/dpa/Alamy Live News Alamy

The lawsuit was subsequently amended in line with the findings to claim that the Subway’s ‘tuna’ was not in fact ‘100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna’, The New York Times reports.

The chain launched a Subway Tuna Facts page to counteract the rumours surrounding the quality or even real nature of the fish. It stated how the ‘tuna’ was ‘regulated by the Food and Drug Administration’ and was specifically, ‘wild-caught skipjack tuna’, ‘premium’ and ‘100% real’.

Contrary to the company’s claims, media outlets decided to test the ‘fish’ themselves, with a sample by Inside Edition revealing tuna present, but a sample by The Times resulting in ‘no amplifiable tuna DNA [being] present’.


The ruling reached by U.S. District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar didn’t reveal whether the ‘tuna’ was actually tuna. Tigar simply dismissed the case on the basis of the required legal standard not having been met by the plaintiffs.

In his ruling, Tigar noted that ‘specific statements they saw and relied upon’ would still need to be described by the plaintiffs to ‘meet the heightened pleading standard’.

In light of the judge’s dismissal, Subway stated:

We commend the court for dismissing the reckless and improper lawsuit surrounding Subway’s tuna.


However, despite the dismissal, as per Bloomberg Law, the attorney for Dhanowa and Amin, Patrick McNicholas, has implied that the plaintiffs may ‘amend the filing to bring it up to pleading standards.’

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Topics: Food, California, Lawsuit, subway


The Washington Post and 3 others
  1. The Washington Post

    Subway tuna lawsuit is dismissed, but ruling says nothing about Subway’s tuna

  2. The New York Times

    The Big Tuna Sandwich Mystery

  3. Bloomberg Law

    Subway Gets Fake Tuna Lawsuit Thrown Out by Skeptical Judge

  4. Subway Tuna Facts

    Subway Tuna Is Real Tuna