A proposed class action alleges Subway has capitalized on the premium consumers are willing to pay for tuna by falsely and misleadingly claiming that real tuna is being used as an ingredient in sandwiches and wraps.
The 25-page lawsuit, filed on January 21 in California, alleges Subway Restaurants, Franchise World Headquarters and Subway Franchisee Advertising Trust Fund Ltd. have deliberately and blatantly lied to reasonable consumers by advertising that they use real tuna as an ingredient.
“In reality, the Products do not contain tuna nor have any ingredient that constitutes tuna,” the complaint alleges. “The Products lack tuna and are completely bereft of tuna as an ingredient.”
As such, Subway’s “tuna” sandwiches and wraps are misbranded under California and federal laws, the suit says. The plaintiff and other Subway customers relied on the defendants’ “misleading marketing and deceptive advertising practices” in believing the products they purchased were made with actual tuna, the case claims.
“In fact, neither Plaintiffs nor any of the members of the putative class received any sandwich or wrap that had tuna at all, or even partially included tuna,” the complaint stresses. “Thus, they were tricked into buying food items that wholly lacked the ingredient they reasonably thought they were purchasing.”
According to the lawsuit, consumers are more willing to pay a higher price for sandwiches and wraps made with tuna because they associate the fish as having a higher nutritional value. Subway, the suit says, knows or has reason to know that the main ingredient in a sandwich or wrap is material in consumers’ purchase decisions.
Instead of real tuna, Subway’s “tuna” products are made “from a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna, yet have been blended together by Defendants to imitate the appearance of tuna,” the lawsuit claims.
“Consequently, because the Products lack tuna as an ingredient, consumers are not receiving the benefit of their bargain,” the suit says.
The suit alleges Subway has run afoul of California’s Business and Professions Code, Consumers Legal Remedies Act and False Advertising and Unfair Competition laws, and looks to represent all consumers in California who, on or after January 21, 2017, bought a “tuna” sandwich or wrap from Subway for household use and not for resale or distribution.
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