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Canada The Courts Science

Subway Sues Canada Network Over Claim Its Chicken Is 50 Percent Soy (yahoo.com) 296

jenningsthecat writes: As reported here back in February, the CBC, (Canada's national broadcaster), revealed DNA test results which indicated the chicken used in Subway Restaurants' sandwiches only contained about 50% chicken. Now, Subway is suing the public broadcaster for $210 million, because "its reputation and brand have taken a hit as a result of the CBC reports." The suit claims that "false statements [...] were published and republished, maliciously and without just cause or excuse, to a global audience, which has resulted in pecuniary loss to the plaintiffs."

Personally, my working assumption here is that the CBC report is substantially correct. It will be interesting to see how the case plays out -- but should this have happened at all? Regulatory agencies here in Canada seem to be pretty good when it comes to inspecting meat processing facilities. Should they also be testing the prepared foods served by major restaurant chains to ensure that claims regarding food content are true and accurate?

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Subway Sues Canada Network Over Claim Its Chicken Is 50 Percent Soy

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @08:48PM (#54273479)
    just like lots of other things
    • Ironically (Score:4, Interesting)

      by presidenteloco ( 659168 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @09:07PM (#54273553)

      the soy protein is probably healthier food than chicken meat.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Read this http://link.springer.com/artic... [springer.com] and then say you are jumping for joy at the thought of consuming soy protein isolate and soy protein concentrate, hmm, i can imagine the taste and goodness of the high temperature acid bath. Soy protein isolate not a food any more, just the cheapest possible molecular chain you can get away with calling it food. If there was cheaper worse shit they could get away with calling food, they would. Personally I read that article and it sent a shudder down my spine and

        • Imagine a high temperature acid bath, let's say pH of 3 and at around 37 C.

        • Re:Ironically (Score:5, Interesting)

          by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:36AM (#54274361)

          Read this http://link.springer.com/artic... [springer.com] and then say you are jumping for joy at the thought of consuming soy protein isolate and soy protein concentrate, hmm, i can imagine the taste and goodness of the high temperature acid bath. Soy protein isolate not a food any more, just the cheapest possible molecular chain you can get away with calling it food. If there was cheaper worse shit they could get away with calling food, they would. Personally I read that article and it sent a shudder down my spine and made me nauseas to think of some of the crap I have eaten. Here read about your 'food?' for a change https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]. If you think that shit is healthier than chicken, you are an idiot.

          The Springer article was paywalled but didn't seem to mention anything about health (or taste).

          The "Health Effects" section in the Wikipedia article starts like this:

          A meta-analysis concluded soy protein is correlated with significant decreases in serum cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations.[41] High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol did not change. Although there is only preclinical evidence for a possible mechanism, the meta-analysis report stated that soy phytoestrogens – the isoflavones, genistein and daidzein – may be involved in reducing serum cholesterol levels.[41]

          In general "processed==bad" and "natural==good" isn't a bad rule-of-thumb to use for healthy eating.

          But the moment you have proper evidence that a particular processed food is good, or a natural one bad, forget the default rule and use the evidence instead.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Actually, that makes it weird. You see, the default animal taste is chicken. But any forager or naturalist will tell you the default plant taste is asparagus.

      If you eat rattlesnake, it "tastes like chicken" because it's lean and most of the distinctive flavor of a meat is in the fat (and bone -- it's always better to cook a steak or a pork chop bone in). If it's not fatty or bony or gamey or bloody, what you've got left is chicken flavor.

      It's a mystery to me though why so many plants taste like asparagus

      • cicadas are slightly bitter.

        Plants taste like asparagus because most food plants have been bred to have lower levels of acids that the plant generates to keep you from eating it. The reason is that the less extra work the plant does, the bigger it grows. When the farmers select for larger size, they're also selecting for less flavor, and the most bitter flavors are the first to go.

        Asparagus is one of the minority of foods that caters to the natural cravings for some of those chemicals.

        I do a lot of foraging

  • They did two independent studies and both had the same result. I would say it is the labs that should be sued if anything.
    • I think the problem is that they only tested from a single restaurant if memory serves correct. If you're seeing really strange results, you'd probably want to get samples from a few other restaurants to see if it's the chain or an isolated incident.

      Hell, depending on the city and location, some Subways could just sell soy instead of chicken it would be even more popular.
      • by ark1 ( 873448 )
        This. A single supplier may have been delivering lower quality.
      • That's a bit weak. Unless it can be proven that the one restaurant tampered with the meat and added soy, the statement "Subway chicken sandwiches may only be 50% chicken" is still true.
      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        Typically chain stores have these sorts of things prepared at central locations and trucked out to the stores. Its unlikely to be a single store.
      • They tested several chains and they were all >90% chicken. Subway was the only anomaly.

      • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

        The whole point of fast-food chains is that they sell a uniform product through all their chains. If this was an aberration, then Subway has to prove that. In the meantime, due to public expectations, the result should stand.

    • by arglebargle_xiv ( 2212710 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @07:10AM (#54275241)

      They did two independent studies and both had the same result.

      There's also a litte-known third study [isotropic.org], done several years earlier, that confirms the results.

  • by fractalrock ( 662410 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @09:09PM (#54273563)
    Op, a bit of research (always helpful) would reveal that Subway has an excellent case against the CBC. https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/food-scientists-weigh-in-on-50-subway-chicken-test-its-100-weird/ [arstechnica.com]
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      True, the CBC investigation did things in an odd way.

      However, the results from the other chicken fell into reasonable expected values (85-95% chicken). Thus, when Subway's fell well outside the expected value, something is up.

      Now, granted, using the industry standard testing methods returns the right value, but you do wonder if there's something else going on - is someone gaming the system so it tests properly, or what's happening so that everyone else measures properly

      • So you're claiming that even where the methodology is faulty, if it differently faulty in an individual case then the person under study must be suspicious?

        I don't think you really understand the "faulty" part in "faulty."

  • CBC claims there is around 50% of real chicken not that it is 50% soy. Remaining 50% are various fillers including soy.
    • It doesn't matter. Regardless of what so called filler used, you can tell from the different texture when it's that high a proportion. The CBC "study" is worth less than toilet paper.

      For one, they had the test done at a wildlife center, not a food laboratory. Second, plant and animal cells are different sizes and contain different amounts of DNA, CBC won't release their methodology for determining percentages from their samples.

      Somebody's about to get a legal footlong over a judge's desk.

      • If you read the CBC articles, they are very careful to say that there is 50% soy DNA, so they are not misrepresenting the study. The point is to draw a comparison against other restaurants which were close to to 100% chicken DNA. They are making a relative comparison to other restaurants, not saying the 'chicken' is 50% soy.
  • CBC is full of it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by bongey ( 974911 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @09:30PM (#54273679)

    Subway will win the lawsuit. https://arstechnica.com/scienc... [arstechnica.com]

    • Agreed. But so many people just read the headline and believe it. A few more go to the article, which has been highly edited and compressed to catch eyeballs and earn ad revenue, and believe that. Only a very few people take to time to actually get the real original report, much less wonder how accurate the report really is.

  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @09:31PM (#54273699)

    I read a while back that the tests the CBC had performed have been discredited. In other words, CBC's method of determining the percentage of chicken is not the usual way one goes about it. It's not that the test results are wrong, but rather the test is not the right test. At least that's what I read. Could be wrong, though.

    • If your chicken patty really is 50% soy, you could tell just by looking, and if you didn't look you would know at the first bite because it wouldn't taste or feel like chicken. If someone really is trying to make fake meat that tastes and looks like meat then they wouldn't use soy to do it. Fake meat that actually fools people will be much more expensive than chicken anyway.

  • by sonamchauhan ( 587356 ) <sonamc&gmail,com> on Thursday April 20, 2017 @09:54PM (#54273821) Journal

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/busines... [www.cbc.ca]

    "We were able to determine the relative amounts of chicken via plant filler in these samples through PCR amplification"

  • How dare you suggest our chicken contains so much water! It's 50 percent chicken protein, 30 percent water, 5 percent meat glue, 5 percent insect parts, and 10 percent rat droppings. And we can prove it!

    See you in court, you libelous bastards!

    Jared Fondlebum

    Director of Marketing

    Subway

  • Subway just shot itself in the foot here. This is a Barbara Streisand [wikipedia.org] move that will only further expose Subway as a bad company with bad faith practices. Their sales will totally tank because of this and I would be surprised if they haven't already been hit really hard by their own stupidity. No empathy from me. They should have owned up to it and issued an apology and discontinued this bad product.

  • https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/... [usda.gov]

    Cooked chicken is about 60% water.
    So no, it isn't more than about 40% "chicken" by weight.

    But it still very well could be what we call "chicken" - ie the agglomeration of the muscle fiber, water, fats, etc.

    • But it still very well could be what we call "chicken" - ie the agglomeration of the muscle fiber, water, fats, etc.

      It's more like an agglutination, since it's chicken bits which are glued together with a very tiny amount of soy protein and then sliced hyper-regularly.

  • by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:20PM (#54274155)

    I don't see why regulatory agencies shouldn't be able to test products.... IF they are doing it properly though.

    Because if Subway is right on this one, and it sounds like they are, they have all the rights to sue CBC for it, and this isn't only to the benefit of Subway, but also to the benefit of the public.
    https://arstechnica.com/scienc... [arstechnica.com]

    Basically, if the ArsTechnica article is right, CBC used a bad method to jump into a conclusion and premeditated an article about it for some reason. That reason could be pure incompetence or perhaps something worse, but it certainly damaged the fast food chain reputation for no good reason.

    Rebuilding that sort of reputation can be extremely costly, and the fast food chain could lose far more than 210 million for it. Unfounded rumors usually already cost far more than that for other fast food chains, a regulatory agency going out of it's way to publish something like that can be far more damaging.

    We'll see how it goes.

    • Basically, if the ArsTechnica article is right, CBC used a bad method to jump into a conclusion and premeditated an article about it for some reason. That reason could be pure incompetence or perhaps something worse, but it certainly damaged the fast food chain reputation for no good reason.

      Yes, but isn't the main culprit the actual laboratory, so shouldn't the laboratory be the one that is liable assuming the CBC does a full and complete retraction? After all, it's not like the CBC has any expertise in this particular field and they did rely on the claimed expertise of another organization.

      For instance, let's say there is another doping scandal in the Tour de France, should the CBC avoid publishing anything about such a scandal if only one laboratory was used to test the blood samples (even i

  • What the submitter thinks is completely irrelevant. If I want comments, I'll read the comments.
    • My goodness, child, please stop reading the summary. Think of the children! Their poor eyes! Your poor eyes!

  • Suck on science, Subway.

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