SAN FRANCISCO - A third lawsuit accusing Subway of deceiving the public about its tuna products said lab testing shows they contain animal proteins such as chicken, pork and cattle, and not the advertised "100% tuna."
Plaintiffs Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin filed this latest version of their proposed class action Nov. 8 in the federal court in San Francisco, near their homes in Alameda County. Neither plaintiff has ever spoken publicly about the case.
Subway told Reuters in a statement it will seek to dismiss the "reckless and improper" lawsuit.
The chain said the plaintiffs have "filed three meritless complaints, changing their story each time," and that its "high-quality, wild-caught, 100% tuna" was regulated strictly in the United States and around the world.
Subway says an independent lab verified their tuna as true tuna in 30 tests and claims it is yellowfin or skipjack tuna used in its sandwiches.
The original complaint filed in January claimed that Subway tuna salads, sandwiches and wraps were "bereft" of tuna, while an amended complaint said they were not 100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna. The plaintiffs removed the " no tuna' claim and June.
And in July, Subway called the claim "frivolous" and said the women offered no facts.
In the same filing, Subway said the negative media attention from the lawsuit hurt thousands of franchisees by depressing sales of a best-selling product. I
U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar dismissed the second version last month, saying the plaintiffs did not show they bought Subway tuna based on alleged misrepresentations.
He did not rule on the merits, and gave the plaintiffs another chance to make their case.
The Nov. 8 lawsuit relies on testing by a marine biologist of 20 tuna samples taken from 20 Subway restaurants in southern California.
It said 19 samples had "no detectable tuna DNA sequences," while all 20 contained detectable chicken DNA, 11 contained pork DNA and 7 contained cattle DNA.
Many people cannot eat various meats because of diet or religious issues.
The complaint said the testing showed that Subway mislabeled its tuna products, and "duped" consumers into paying premium prices.
Amin wrote in court documents that she has ordered Subway tuna products more than 100 times from 2013 to 2019, and always checked the menu to ensure she would be eating "only tuna."
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for fraud and violations of California consumer protection laws.