At one point, The New York Times did an in-depth look at whether the fish product included in the restaurant chain Subway's popular sandwiches was actually tuna or... something else?
The reporter's investigative report came in response to a class-action lawsuit filed against the fast-food giant. The lawsuit claims the brand's tuna sandwiches "completely contain no tuna ingredients."
The headlines surrounding this have sparked questions about what exactly is in the meat we consume at fast food restaurants.
How healthy are the highly processed foods you might order at McDonald's or Subway? Does everything they claim really work as advertised?
The truth about fast food meat
"The allegations in the complaint filed in California are simply not true," a Subway spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement to The New York Times. They added: " Subway provides 100 percent cooked tuna to its restaurants. Mix with mayonnaise and use on freshly made sandwiches, wraps and salads for our guests to enjoy.”
Reporters sent samples of Subway tuna sandwiches to a commercial food testing laboratory. The results are somewhat uncertain.
The lab found "no amplifiable tuna DNA was present" in the sample she sent, and they were unable to "identify the species present in the sandwich product."
A spokesperson for the lab told the New York Times that two conclusions can be drawn from this: Either the tuna products are "extremely processed" and the tuna cannot be clearly identified, or there is "no tuna at all" in the tuna products.
When it comes to selling questionable meat products, a common practice in the fast food industry , it really depends on the brand, who the supplier is, and what's on the menu.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires fast food brands with more than 20 stores in the United States to clearly disclose their nutritional information.
Some fast food chains may use texturized vegetable protein or soy products as fillers in their beef burgers or tortillas, if you're concerned about this it's recommended to look for '100% beef' in the menu description and check allergen information.
If you're concerned about what foods you might be consuming from fast food restaurants, you can easily refer to this information. This includes official menu labeling guidance from the FDA’s trusted sources and publicly available information about sourcing beef from popular brands like McDonald’s.
It really depends on the specific product. " Burger meat is difficult to 'fake' a product that looks like what it is," however, if it's fried chicken nuggets, i.e. chicken nuggets, the issue can get a little murkier as there are often many other ingredients in the product, such as breading , starch, glucose, these ingredients may be masked.
Does fast food have nutritional value?
People should avoid eating more meat than they should eat, and "pure meat" is better because it is healthier than processed meat products .
Nutritional and allergen information for your go-to fast food options is now easily available by simply checking the menu labeling requirements. You should avoid purchasing items that may contain potential allergens.
So, just how healthy is instant meat? There is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Fast food meat products may behave differently in terms of cooking preparation and taste acceptance. When fillers are added, the product may contain more moisture or flour, affecting cooking and quality. Depending on the amount of filler used, this may affect the flavor of the product.
For fast food restaurants, standardized products can provide consistency in estimating nutritional content. This is compared to buying a burger at home and preparing it from scratch; it all depends on "the meat used and the parts prepared."
Recommendations depend on what your health goals are and whether you have any food allergies. Evaluate the calorie and nutritional information to see if specific menu items fit into your overall meal plan.