Are Subway’s Sandwiches Actually Made with Bread?

Ireland’s Supreme Court says no.

October 02, 2020

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Photo by: SOPA Images/Getty

SOPA Images/Getty

Ireland’s Supreme Court has ruled that the bread used in Subway’s hot sandwiches contain too much sugar to be considered “bread.”

In a case centering on how the sandwiches should be taxed, the five-judge court determined in its judgment that, because the rolls used by the U.S. sandwich chain’s Irish franchises had a sugar content around 10 percent of the weight of the flour used to make them, they couldn’t be considered a “staple product.” That was true for both white and whole-grain rolls.

As a result, the rolls aren’t eligible to be taxed at zero percent, the rate used for staple products in Ireland, the high court ruled in a case brought by Irish Subway franchisee, Bookfinders Ltd. Instead they are to be taxed at 13.5 percent.

Ireland’s VAT Act of 1972 stipulates that ingredients like sugar, fat or “bread improver” in bread must be no more than 2 percent of the weight of the flour in the dough in order to be legally considered “bread.”

Subway waved away the judicial panel’s definition.

Subway's bread is, of course, bread,” the company said in a statement. “We have been baking fresh bread in our restaurants for more than three decades and our guests return each day for sandwiches made on bread that smells as good as it tastes.”

It’s hardly the first time Subway bread has come under scrutiny. Remember the (ultimately dismissed as meritless) case brought against it because its “footlong” sandwiches weren’t actually a foot long? And that foofaraw over azodicarbonamide, an ingredient used in commercially baked goods to bleach flour and condition dough that is also found in non-edible products like yoga mats? Subway subsequently removed the ingredient.

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