Fast food eaters are often concerned with how healthy the meat they’re consuming might be, but a new Canadian study suggests that the fowl they’re consuming might be less bird than they think.
The Canadian news network CBC enlisted a DNA laboratory at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario to analyze several fast food restaurant chicken sandwiches. They found that samples of Subway chicken had only 50 percent chicken DNA.
Researchers tested chicken meat from four other fast food chains: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, A&W, and Tim Hortons. Those four restaurants averaged more than 85 percent chicken DNA in five samples of varying sizes, according to the network.
But the initial tests for the Subway meat were so outlying that researchers tested the meat further, the network reported. According to CBC Marketplace, the final average of the results suggested that chicken pieces at Subway varied from 42.8 percent to 53.6 percent chicken DNA.
The remaining genetic material? Mostly soy, which Subway Canada said in a statement it uses sparingly to “help stabilize the texture and moisture.”
It was unclear how far from the median the initial test results were, or how much the second set of tests varied from the initial results.
It’s not the first time people have used DNA testing on meat to test its integrity. Last May, food analytics company Clear Labs reported finding human and rat DNA in hamburgers, though experts noted that those cases were rare in the samples and likely triggered only by trace amounts, according to Vox.
In the statement to CBC, Subway Canada noted it could not back up the newsroom’s lab results but said it was “concerned by the alleged findings you cite with respect to the proportion of soy content.”
“Our chicken strips and oven roasted chicken contain 1% or less of soy protein,” they added. “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.”
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