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Subway sandwiches too sugary to be legally called 'bread', says Irish Court

Ruling states that the bread should not be considered a ‘staple food’

Sarah Young
Thursday 01 October 2020 09:16 BST
(Getty Images)
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The bread served at Subway cannot legally be defined as bread, the Irish Supreme court has ruled.

The sandwich chain’s loaves also cannot be defined as a staple food because it contains too much sugar, it says.

The ruling comes following an appeal brought by Subway franchisee Bookfinders Ltd, which argued that the bread used for Subway’s sandwiches counts as a staple food and is therefore exempt from VAT.

According to the Value-Added Tax Act of 1972, for a company to be taxed zero percent the weight of sugar and fat in a bread product must not be more than two percent of the total weight of flour in the dough.

However, the dough used for Subway sandwiches has a sugar content of roughly 10 percent the weight of its flour content, the Irish Times reports.

All six of the company’s bread options — Italian white bread, Italian herbs and cheese, nine-grain wheat, hearty Italian, nine-grain multi-seed, and honey oat — were deemed too sugary by the court to qualify as bread.

The definition serves to differentiate bread from other baked goods, such as cookies.

“The argument depends on the acceptance of the prior contention that the Subway heated sandwich contains ‘bread’ as defined, and therefore can be said to be food for the purposes of the Second Schedule rather than confectionary,” the court ruled.  

“Since that argument has been rejected, this subsidiary argument must fail.” The appeal was subsequently dismissed.

This is not the first time that Subway’s bread has made headlines.

In 2014, the sandwich chain faced criticism after it was revealed that its loaves contained azodicarbonamide ― a chemical used in shoe rubber and yoga mats.

A petition was launched calling for the company to remove the ingredient from its bread, using the hashtag #nowaysubway.

Subway later confirmed that it was removing the chemical, but that its decision was already underway before the petition started.

The Independent has contacted Subway for comment.

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