At a time when Americans are increasingly becoming more interested and concerned with the quality of food they are ingesting these days, some of the things they are learning about the food they eat can be more than a bit disconcerting.
A recent study of chicken sandwiches at several popular fast-food restaurants, commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s “Marketplace,” came back with results that were less than stellar for one popular restaurant chain.
A DNA analysis was conducted on all of the pieces of chicken to determine how much of it was actually real chicken meat, and two different samples from Subway — the oven-roasted chicken breast and sweet onion chicken teriyaki strips — were found to only be about half actual chicken. As this was markedly different from the other pieces of chicken, a second study of Subway’s chicken was conducted and reached similar conclusions.
The researchers at Trent University’s Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory, in Peterborough, Ontario, noted that while a plain chicken breast from the grocery store should measure at nearly 100 percent pure chicken DNA, it is not uncommon for marinated, seasoned and prepared meats to end up containing less than 100 percent meat DNA, as other ingredients have been added into the mix.
That said, it was noteworthy that the pieces of chicken from other restaurants that were analyzed all registered between roughly 85 to 90 percent chicken DNA. Subway’s oven-roasted chicken rated as 53.6 percent chicken, while the chicken teriyaki only measured at 42.8 percent chicken DNA.
The study further revealed that the bulk of the remaining DNA in the two pieces of chicken from Subway came from soy, a determination the restaurant chain has disputed.
In the interest of fairness, the CBC “Marketplace” solicited responses from the restaurants involved in the study for comment on the results.
Subway Canada stated that it “cannot confirm the veracity of the results of the lab testing you had conducted. However, we are concerned by the alleged findings you cite with respect to the proportion of soy content.”
“Our chicken strips and oven roasted chicken contain 1 percent or less of soy protein,” Subway’s statement continued. “We use this ingredient in these products as a means to help stabilize the texture and moisture. All of our chicken items are made from 100 percent white meat chicken which is marinated, oven roasted and grilled.
“We tested our chicken products recently for nutritional and quality attributes and found it met our food quality standards. We will look into this again with our supplier to ensure that the chicken is meeting the high standard we set for all of our menu items and ingredients,” the statement added.
Customers generally regard chicken to be a “healthier” meat when compared to other proteins, and while there may be some truth to that when strictly comparing raw, unadulterated meat, the assumption pretty much goes out the window once the meats have been seasoned or prepared, such as at a fast-food restaurant.
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