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Judge rules Subway can be sued over claims that its tuna sandwiches contain other fish species or animal products

Subway claims any findings of other ingredients are the results of simple cross-contamination in preparing customers' sandwiches.
A Tuna Sandwich from a Subway restaurant.
A tuna sandwich from a Subway restaurant.Jorg Carstensen / dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images file

The sandwich chain Subway can be sued over claims that it is misleading customers when it says its tuna products are "100% tuna," a federal judge in California said Monday.

The suit, originally brought in January 2021 by Oakland-area resident Nilima Amin, claims Subway's tuna products “partially or wholly lack tuna as an ingredient” and “contain other fish species, animal products, or miscellaneous products aside from tuna.”

The claims are based on testing performed at a UCLA marine biology laboratory. The biologist who performed the tests, Paul Barber, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Subway has responded by saying any product that is not tuna in its tuna products would most likely be the result of cross-contact as one of its employees prepares a sandwich.

But even if that is the case, the “100% tuna” claim might still be inaccurate, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar said.

“Although it is possible that Subway’s explanations are the correct ones, it is also possible that these allegations refer to ingredients that a reasonable consumer would not reasonably expect to find in a tuna product,” Tigar said.

Tigar expects Amin and her attorneys to file an amended complaint.

"Subway serves 100% tuna. We are disappointed the Court felt it couldn’t dismiss the plaintiffs’ reckless and improper lawsuit at this stage," Subway spokeperson Carsen Anderson said. "However, we are confident that Subway will prevail when the Court has an opportunity to consider all the evidence."