Subway bread isn’t legally ‘bread,’ Irish Supreme Court rules

Adella Miesner

Subway bread isn’t legally bread, according to Ireland’s highest court. ABC News reports the Irish Supreme Court issued a ruling Tuesday declaring that the U.S.-based sandwich chain’s bread doesn’t meet the legal definition of “bread” because of its high sugar content. The Guardian reports Subway franchisee Bookfinders Ltd. brought the […]

Subway bread isn’t legally bread, according to Ireland’s highest court.

ABC News reports the Irish Supreme Court issued a ruling Tuesday declaring that the U.S.-based sandwich chain’s bread doesn’t meet the legal definition of “bread” because of its high sugar content.

The Guardian reports Subway franchisee Bookfinders Ltd. brought the case to the court, claiming Subway bread counts as a “staple food” to be exempt from value-added tax under Ireland’s VAT Act of 1972. But Subway’s bread contains five times the qualifying limit for sugar to be considered a staple food.

The law limits sugar to 2% of the total weight of flour in the dough, to differentiate bread from other non-essential baked goods like cookies or cake. All of Subway’s bread options — white bread, Italian, nine-grain wheat, honey oat, Italian herbs and cheese, nine-grain multiseed, and hearty Italian — contain about 10% sugar and thus don’t count as “bread.”

“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. Since that argument has been rejected, this subsidiary argument must fail,” the court said in its official judgement.

“Essentially, to summarise, Subway ‘bread’ is actually cake,” one Twitter user wrote.

Subway, which has branches in more than 100 countries around the world, did not comment on the ruling.

The company’s bread was previously scrutinized in 2014 when a food blogger petitioned the chain to remove an ingredient known as a “yoga mat” chemical. Subway said the ingredient, azodicarbonamide, was approved by the FDA for use in food as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner, but said it would stop using it amid complaints pointing out the chemical is also used to make yoga mats.

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