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Eat Fresh: 20 Disturbing Facts About Fast Food Giant Subway

Eat Fresh: 20 Disturbing Facts About Fast Food Giant Subway

Subway restaurants are very popular. They are found almost everywhere in the world. Subway made its success by advertising the food offered at Subway as a “fresh” alternative to other fast food restaurants, such as those serving hamburgers and French fries.

Subway sells close to 8 million sandwiches each day and serves around 10 million salads. That is about 5,300 sandwiches every 60 seconds. With all the ingredients choices, there are about 38 million different sandwiches that can be made from the materials available at a Subway. One of Subway’s most popular sandwiches, the “BMT” was originally named after an actual subway train line, the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system. Now, the BMT letters stand for Biggest, Meatiest, and Tastiest sandwich.

Fred DeLuca started this restaurant chain with a single restaurant he opened in Bridgeport, Connecticut during 1965. He was only 17 years old. At that time, a sub sandwich sold for $0.49 to $0.69 each. Fred sold 312 sandwiches on opening day, becoming an instantaneous success that continues to this day.

Here are 20 disturbing things that Subway would prefer consumers do not know:

20. Stinky Chicken


The Daily Mail UK ran a story, which featured a direct online chat and interview with a Subway restaurant store manager. The manager, who wanted to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, agreed to answer any online chat questions about Subway, openly and honestly. The manager was asked what items at Subway are not as good to eat. His answer was to avoid the chipotle-flavored and teriyaki-flavored chicken.

He explained that the chicken meat stinks when it comes out of the bag to be cooked. One commenter on the chat line said that the smell probably came from the preservative added to the bag, which is released into the air when the bag is opened and then the smell dissipates after a few minutes. In response, the manager said that even if the chicken is left in a tray in the refrigerator for the better part of a day, it still stinks.

Subway allows a two-day shelf life for chicken, except for the chipotle-flavored and the teriyaki-flavored chicken, which have a four-day shelf life. Even though cooking the chicken removes the odor, a sandwich made with either of those two types of flavored chicken may contain meat as much as four days old. Not so fresh.

19. Subway Adds Sugar To Their Freshly Baked Bread


The distinctive Subway smell is caused by the caramelization (burning) of the sugar in the bread dough as it bakes. Every Subway restaurant in the world serves the same bread. The bread dough is delivered frozen and then the bread is baked on the premises. This is why no matter what Subway you eat at anywhere in the world, the sandwiches taste the same.

Workers for Subway have to keep their uniforms in a separate dresser drawer because it is not possible to wash the Subway smell out of clothes. If workers keep their uniforms mixed with other clothes, pretty soon all their clothes will have that Subway smell.

There is far too much consumption of sugar by the average consumer and this caused an epidemic of obesity that led to an increase in Type 2 diabetes. Even though the sugar makes the bread taste better and it smells better when cooking, the hazards to good health from excessive consumption of sugar are very serious.

18. Some Subway Stores Use GM Ingredients And GM Foods


Subway uses genetically modified (GM) ingredients in some items that contain GM canola, GM corn, and GM soy. Some Subway stores may use genetically modified vegetables. Subway does not use GM foods or GM ingredients in the UK. Moreover, France and Russia have banned all GM ingredients and the use of GM foods, so Subway cannot use them in those countries.

GM ingredients and GM foods are problematic because of the unknown nature of any possible ill effects from their long-term use in the food supply. Farmers object to monoculture (one crop type) farming that produces GM crops because the surrounding areas are changed due to the exposure to the nearby planted GM crops. For example, because of the effect of wind blowing across the crops, the use of GM corn makes it almost impossible to grow organic corn, near fields of GM corn. The GM corn and the organic corn have a tendency to get mixed together, which contaminates the organic corn. Subway restaurants, like other fast food operations, have a major influence on the acceptance and profitability of GM crops by the enormous volume of Subway’s purchasing of foodstuffs.

17. A Salad May Have More Calories Than A Sandwich


Many falsely believe that having a salad instead of a sandwich is a healthier choice. Certainly, eating green leafy vegetables that are found in a “low-cal” salad is a good idea for improving health. Eating salad is a good strategy for those desiring to lose weight. However, the things that are added to a salad may cause the calories to rise significantly.

Few people eat a salad without some kind of dressing on it. Dressings are a source of added sugars that increase the caloric content. Some Subway patrons like to add crispy chicken, bacon strips, grilled salmon, or other items to make eating a salad more like having a full meal. In terms of calories, a salad can be just as high as a hamburger.

For example, the Subway Crispy Chicken and Bacon salad has 15 grams of fat and 302 calories. Compare this to a cheeseburger that has only 12 grams of fat and 310 calories and it becomes obvious that eating salads is not as good of a low-calorie choice as thought by most people. Another example is the Subway Premium Bacon Ranch Salad. It has 124 grams of fat and 310 calories. This is just slightly less than the fat and calories found in a barbecue ranch burger. When comparing the nutritional values for the Subway salad menu with the nutritional values for the Subway sandwiches, it is surprising to see how many calories are in the salads.

16. Not All Subway Food Is Healthy

Via YouTube

Subway stumbled into a highly successful marketing concept, which was that eating a “fresh” Subway sandwich is somehow a more healthy choice than eating the fast food from competitors. The driving force behind the marketing campaign, which showed Subway sandwiches as a healthier choice, came from Jared Fogle who became Subway’s spokesperson. Jared Fogle was very obese, weighing over 400 pounds. He started a diet of eating Subway sandwiches (with no condiments or cheese added) and lost over 200 pounds during one year.

Jared’s story came to the attention of Subway and they hired him to do a series of television commercials. The theme of eating the delicious Subway sandwiches and being able to lose weight at the same time resonated with many consumers. Jared continued to lose weight and this made the television commercials have even more impact. They showed Jared losing more and more weight as time went by. The sales of Subway sandwiches soared and so did the opening of Subway franchise stores all over the world. A new Subway opens now at the rate of two stores per day.

Even though the public may believe Subway sandwiches are a healthier choice, the truth is not all Subway food is healthy. There are plenty of questionable additives used in the processing of the deli meats that Subway uses for its sandwiches. Subway has been challenged by consumer action groups for certain potentially harmful additives, such as azodicarbonamide found in the Subway food. To the company’s credit, when enough consumer pressure came to bear, the company stopped using the potentially unsafe additive azodicarbonamide. However, it still has not gotten rid of all of the other questionable additives. Even though Subway advertises its food as “fresh,” the restaurant chain makes heavy use of preservatives to keep the food fresh.

15. Subways Has More Restaurants Than McDonald’s

Via Business Insider

Pretty much everyone knows that McDonald’s is the largest restaurant chain in the world, right? Not anymore. By the end of 2010, Subway surpassed McDonald’s as having more restaurant locations. The tally for 2010 showed McDonald’s had 32,737 locations compared to 33,749 for Subway. Currently, Subway has over 43,000 locations in over 110 countries.

McDonald’s revenues declined over the past years and only this past year showed some growth. McDonald’s improved its financial results by closing poor performing locations.

Meanwhile, Subway continues to grow. Subway achieved this stellar growth by opening, on average, two stores per day for decades. That’s pretty good for a sub sandwich shop that was started in one location by the co-founder, seventeen-year-old Fred DeLuca, with a $1,000 loan from his friend, Peter Buck. Mr. DeLuca died in 2015; however, he lived long enough to see his dream realized of beating McDonald’s as the world’s largest restaurant chain.

All of the Subway restaurants are franchises. Subway achieved this massive growth in locations by embracing “non-traditional” locations. There are Subway stores in airports, casinos, shopping malls, zoos, a high school in Detroit, in a laundry mart called Lucy’s located in Los Angeles, and even as part of a Baptist church in Buffalo. Not to be outdone by the Baptists, there is a Subway shop in a Jewish Community Center in Cleveland. Take a trip to Europe, visit Germany, and enjoy a Subway store on the riverboat MS Stolzenfels that takes nice tours on the Rhine River.

14. Larger Soft Drinks And Free Refills May Cost Consumers Their Health


Consumers mistakenly think they get more value by ordering a larger size. What they are actually getting is too many calories and way too much sugar, especially if they order regular soft drinks. If the Subway shop offers free drink refills, and many do, the amount of sugar consumed by patrons from drinking regular soft drinks is mind boggling.

The Organic Authority reports that over the past forty years, serving sizes of soft drinks increased to now be four times the size of those drinks offered during the 1970’s and 1980’s. A regular size drink used to be seven ounces. Now, a soft drink can be as much as 32 ounces.

During this same period, while soft drink serving sizes quadrupled, there has been an exponential rise in obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, even among children.

13. Self-Serve Soda Fountains Are Toxic Bio-hazards


Besides the increase in obesity and diseases attributed to excessive consumption of sugar from drinking regular soft drinks, there is another serious health risk. This risk comes from the bacteria. Bacteria grow quickly in environments that are full of sugar and exposed to the air. The drink spills on the self-serve soda machines create the perfect place for bacteria to grow.

It used to be that most bacteria found on surfaces in fast food restaurants were relatively harmless. This is not true anymore. Virulent strains of antibiotic resistant E-coli are getting more prevalent. These bacteria create a type of food poisoning that makes people really sick and some can die from the illness.

During 2013, the American television show of Dr. Oz reported that the self-service soda machine was the dirtiest place in fast food restaurants, even dirtier than the toilets. If a consumer only knew that is might be safer to drink the water from the toilets than to drink soda from a self-service machine; this unhealthy trend could be reversed. This is not only a problem in Subway shops but with all restaurants that have these self-service soda machines.

12. Come A Bit Later Than The First Thing In The Morning


Subway restaurants have a rigorous cleaning protocol that is performed at the beginning of each day in the morning when a shop first opens. To try to get the restaurants really clean for the day, employees use harsh cleaners. Some of these cleaners leave a residue that can get into the food or into the coffee and sodas. On occasion, it is possible to taste the contaminants caused by the cleaning chemicals used, especially in the early morning coffee.

To avoid getting a dose of cleaning chemicals along with your morning meal and coffee, it is best to come about one hour or so after the restaurant opens to give the chemicals on the various surfaces enough time to dissipate and to allow for a few runs of coffee to have washed out the equipment before you arrive.

11. Subway Like Other Fast Food Venues Is Very Wasteful

Via One World

Researchers at the University of Arizona studied the food waste generated by fast food restaurants and compared this waste to the levels found at regular dining style restaurants. Fast food restaurants, on average, wasted about 9.55% of the food. Regular type dining restaurants wasted only about 3.11% of the food.

The End Food Waste website reports a horrendous figure that is almost incomprehensible. In America alone, fast food restaurants waste over 85 million lbs. of food each day. At the same time, Feed the Children reports that millions of children (even children in the USA) go to bed hungry every night.

It is important to work on practical solutions to waste less and feed more people. In some communities, the local Food Bank is able to collect the food that is nearing the shelf life limit for sale and distribute this food to the poor people. Subway needs to do a better job in reducing food waste.

10. Chicken Meat Is Only About Half Chicken


This is a controversial topic. The Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) and Trent University performed research testing on the chicken fillets used by Subway to make the Subway Oven-Roasted Chicken sandwich. By testing the DNA found in the chicken fillets, the test concluded that the chicken fillets consisted of only 53.6% of chicken. The 42.4% remaining balance consisted of water, fillers (such as soy), spices, and other added ingredients.

The same researchers tested Subway’s sumptuous chicken strips used to make the Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich and found that the chicken strips contained only 42.8% chicken.

Subway Canada responded to the allegations by vehemently denying the claims of the scientific researchers. Subway Canada said that less than 1% of soy protein was used in their chicken, which is added to help stabilize the product with moisture and give it a certain texture In the same rebuttal, Subway Canada said all of the Subway chicken products are made from 100% white chicken meat, which is marinated, and then grilled or roasted in an oven. Wait a minute. Subway Canada said less than 1% was soy but not zero soy, so the chicken meat must be less than 100% chicken. Anyone can do that math. Further research testing by unrelated third parties is necessary to determine the accuracy of the Trent University results.

9. The Problem With The Promotion Of “Only 6 Grams Of Fat”

Via Subway

For those trying to diet, you have been duped by relying on the Subway promotion that their sandwiches have only 6 grams of fat. Just because something is low in fat, does not mean it is not fattening. Candy bars can be low fat and extremely fattening due to the sugar content. It is not the fat that makes a person “fat,” it is the calories and most importantly how much sugar an item contains.

In addition to this confusion about low-fat foods not being fattening, the Subway claim of only “6 grams of fat,” is made for a sandwich consisting only of meat, wheat bread, lettuce, green peppers, onions, olives, pickles, and tomatoes. If a consumer adds any condiments, sauces, or cheese, the level of fat content and the calories for the sandwich goes way up. Here is an example. Choose a foot-long oven-roasted chicken sandwich with wheat bread. This choice has 620 calories and 10 grams of fat. A six-inch size, which is essentially half a sandwich, has 310 calories and 5 grams of fat. Therefore, this is a candidate for the low-fat “healthier” choice of a Subway sandwich. Order the foot-long with mayo and cheese and the calorie count jumps to 920 for the sandwich, with the fat level rising to 41 grams. Now, the Subway chicken sandwich has more calories and more fat than a McDonald’s Big Mac®!

8. Cutting Boards At Subway Are Contaminated With Bacteria

Via Mama Thoughts

All of Subway sandwiches are prepared on a cutting board. Because the cutting board comes into contact with a variety of foods and is touched by many hands it is naturally going to have bacteria on it. Even wiping the cutting board off does little to clean it of the tiny bacteria. In fact, wiping the surface of the cutting board with a cloth spreads the bacteria around and re-introduces the bacteria from the wiping cloth back to the cutting board.

Some cutting boards are slightly porous giving bacteria a place to invade and grow. All cutting boards have small cuts on them from the process of cutting things. These cuts can harbor bacteria and trap bacteria in the crevices.

The regular cleaning policy for Subway’s cutting boards is a continual wiping during the day and rinsing off at night, which as we noted is not completely effective. These daily cleaning attempts are combined with a deeper cleaning twice each month. To be perfectly clean, the cutting boards would have to be steam-cleaned at temperatures high enough to kill all bacteria.

7. Food Is Used After The Legal Spoil Date


Some ingredients are used in Subway shops after they are legally “spoiled.” As we noted, almost ten percent of the food used by Subway is wasted. This happens because of the need to have all the ingredients required for all of the sandwiches. Not everything pre-prepared is used each day. The shelf-life for some things is two days and for a few others, it is four days.

Unscrupulous Subway managers (they are franchisees after all) can get around the need to throw things out so quickly by putting false future dates on the container labels when the food item is pre-prepared to extend its use for a few more days. This violates Subway’s rules, as well as health department codes in some areas. Nevertheless, insiders say that this is routinely done to save money and reduce food waste.

There is a tricky balance here because food waste is a bad thing; however, so is serving spoiled food that can make people sick. This challenge is more complex for Subway because it offers so many food ingredient choices that if totaled up could make many millions of different combinations.

6. Disgusting Acts Of Subway Workers

Via Huffington Post

Subway is not the only fast food restaurant to have problems with food contamination by immature and irresponsible workers. Subway calls the sandwich preparers, “Sandwich Artists™.” One such “artist” at a Columbus, Ohio Subway store thought it would be funny to put his exposed penis onto a loaf of uncooked Subway bread and have his co-worker take a photo of it, which was then posted online. The idiot even used his own real name in the Instagram post. His friend posted photos of pee that was frozen and loaves of bread made to resemble the shape of male genitalia.

When confronted with the photo evidence, the two idiots pleaded that they did these things at home as a joke and not at work, not realizing they were also admitting to stealing bread dough from the Subway shop that they used for their hi-jinks if they did them at home. Both were immediately fired.

Subway released a public statement that this single incident does not reflect the behavior of the chain’s “Sandwich Artists™,” and these things are not tolerated by Subway. Still, it gives us pause to think of all the idiotic teenage workers that Subway might hire, who could do these things without identifying themselves.

5. Subway’s “Fresh” Food Is A Marketing Ploy

Via YouTube

Subway has made a huge success by distinguishing itself from other fast food chains by promoting and offering “fresh” foods. However, Subway uses additives for flavor and preservatives to maintain freshness. In the chicken products, there is an additive called “chicken-type flavor.” This flavoring is hydrolyzed corn gluten mixed with autolyzed yeast extract. It mimics the flavor enhancement abilities of monosodium glutamate (MSG), which many people do not like added to their food. The corn gluten gives the chicken a flavor boost similar to MSG.

For the Subway food to be “fresh,” it needs to utilize a lot of preservatives. The packaged lettuce and spinach used by Subway has additives to keep it “fresh.” As we noted before, a package of uncooked chicken meat has “stinky” smell, according to one Subway manager, from the preservative used.

Fresh does not mean the food has no additives or preservatives. Subway’s food products are not “farm fresh”, “straight from the farm to the table”, “organic,” or anything of that sort. Consumers need to be aware that Subway “fresh” simply means “not spoiled” and nothing more. Is Subway’s fresh food healthier? Well yes, if compared to eating spoiled food.

4. Subway’s Meat Is Highly Processed

Via Meat Delicacies

All the meat used in Subway restaurants is highly processed. The Subway claim of using 100% white breast chicken meat is an example. That can be considered true when describing the type of meat used in the chicken products; however, meat is not the only ingredient in the chicken products that Subway uses. A big ingredient is simply water. No harm in that, except when adding water, it is necessary to also add something that holds the water together with the meat, such as modified food starch and soy protein. These additives could easily be called “fillers” or “extenders” because they are not meat.

The deli meats, used for the most popular Italian BMT Subway sandwich are pepperoni, salami, and cured ham. These meats are all heavily processed foods containing high levels of salt, nitrates, and preservatives. The famous $5 foot-long Subway sandwich has a foot-long page of ingredients that is too lengthy to list here. An Italian BMT Subway sandwich with provolone cheese, vegetables, and Italian dressing is made of an incredible number of 138 ingredients.

Subway deli meat is processed, which is the exact opposite of being fresh. As far as the “healthy” claims, processed deli meats have been strongly linked to diseases, such as bladder cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease.

A research report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who regularly consumed processed meat had a 23% greater risk of early death when compared to those who never, or rarely, ate processed meats.

3. Insincere Athlete Endorsements

Via Pinterest

Athletes are paid considerable sums to endorse a new Subway sandwich. It is certain that Subway knows how to market its products well. Consumers are easily fooled it seems. Here is a shocking example. Subway chose Olympic athletes to become ambassadors for the “Fit Fresh” Subway advertising campaign. As part of this campaign, Subway promoted a new sandwich called the “Fritos® Chicken Enchilada Melt.” This sandwich is made with chicken, cheese, and the snack food Fritos®.

The Fritos® Chicken Enchilada Melt has an ungodly 1,160 calories with 480 of those calories coming from fat. For comparison, this is more than the calories found in eating six Krispy Kreme® donuts. Which athletes would eat the equivalent of six sugary donuts while in training for the Olympics in order to be fit and fresh? This is false advertising or at least on the very edge of it. The advertising campaign implies that these Olympic athletes eat Fritos® Chicken Enchilada Melt sandwiches and remain fit and healthy.

Many research studies show that exercise does not remove the severe negative impact of an unhealthy diet. Researchers note that just one high-fat meal with unhealthy fats can raise triglyceride levels (a measurement of fat in the bloodstream) by 60% within two hours. Olympic athletes probably do not eat much Subway food, even when they are paid big sums for endorsements to pretend that they do.

2. Subway Sells More Salads Than Sandwiches

Via Subway

The good news is that for the informed consumer there are healthy choices to be found at Subway and the company continues to make serious attempts to improve its food offerings. One of Subway’s recent advertising campaigns was called “Pile on the Veggies.” This campaign was a vast improvement over the “Fit Fresh” campaign they used to promote the Fritos® Chicken Enchilada Melt sandwich.

If consumers stick with the vegetables, avoid adding sauces, condiments, and cheese to sandwiches and choose salads as they are doing more and more; they are heading in a healthier direction. The vegetable-only salads are a terrific choice. Add the roasted chicken/soy meat if you must. It is better not to have salad dressing; however, if you must have a dressing, oil and vinegar has the fewest calories. For the oil, it is better to use extra pure virgin olive oil, so you may have to bring that along with you. Another simple salad dressing choice that you can make yourself is lemon juice and vinegar with a dash of garlic and pepper.

Perhaps a name change is in order and Subway might, in the future, be called “Saladway.”

1. Jared Fogle – Former Subway Spokesperson And Convicted Pedophile

Via New York Post

One of the most shocking things that happened to this restaurant chain was the illegal behavior of its long-time spokesperson. This was not really the restaurant chain’s fault. It is, however, the proverbial elephant in the (now so small prison) room.

At one point in the past, Jared Forge weighed over 400 lbs. He started eating low-calorie Subway sandwiches and lost 235 lbs. in a year. Subway heard abut his story and hired him to be the Subway salesperson. This arrangement lasted for over fifteen years. Jared is the one responsible for Subway gaining the public image of serving healthier fast food when compared to other fast food restaurants.

Everything was going smoothly until Jared was charged with child molestation. Suddenly, the evergreen, squeaky clean, image of Jared as Subways “fastest shrinking man” became tarnished with thoughts in the public’s mind about what he did to those kids that he was accused of molesting. He was found guilty and given 15 1/2 years as a prison sentence.

Jared was married and has two children. The FBI allowed Jared to molest other children for many years, while he was under investigation. The investigation by the FBI lasted over a decade. Jared’s high earnings as the Subway spokesperson paid for many trips as a “sexual” tourist to countries like Thailand, where he could easily acquire young girls and boys for sex.

As part of his defense, Jared’s lawyer claimed that Jared’s dieting to stop his food addiction transferred to the disturbing behavior of becoming a sex addict and then a pedophile. This is not actually unheard of, where an addict trades one addiction for another. Still, the lack of gorging on food seems unlikely to start a person down the path of sex addiction and child molestation. The judge was not convinced at all. When the sentence was announced in the courtroom, it was longer than the sentence requested by the prosecuting attorney. Even though Jared agreed to plead guilty for a shorter sentence as a plea bargain, the judge ignored the deal and gave him a longer sentence.

During, May 2016, Jared was severely beaten by another prison inmate who hates child molesters, so troubles continue to haunt him even while he is in prison. So far, there is not a Subway restaurant in a prison facility and it will be a very long time before Jared can have his favorite Subway sandwich again, which is the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Subway sandwich.


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