Subway found to have misled public with ‘chicken fillet’ that is really processed meat

chicken filletSubway has changed the name of its Chicken Fillet Sub after the advertising watchdog ruled that the description was misleading or deceptive as it contains shaped, processed meat and not a genuine chicken fillet. The snack has been on sale in Australia for a decade.

The snack will now be known as a Chicken Classic and the store is currently changing the signage at its 1300 stores across Australia.

A complaint to the ASB stated: “I purchased a chicken fillet subway roll and when I got it home I was disgusted to find after biting it that it is in fact a processed chicken piece. My understanding of a chicken fillet is a fillet of chicken not processed chicken meat.”

Subway claimed in its response to the ASB:

“The “Chicken Fillet Sub” has been offered for sale in Subway restaurants throughout Australia for at least ten years. The brand has not substantially changed the formula for the product during this time period.

“The ingredients for the Chicken Fillet in the Chicken Fillet Sub as listed on the brand’s website are as follows: Chicken (82%), Flour (wheat), Water, Mineral Salt (450, 451, 452), Salt, Vegetable Oil, Wheat Starch, Sugar, Herbs and Spices, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Egg Albumen, Dehydrated Vegetable (Garlic), Yeast Extract, Soy Sauce (Wheat), Flavours (Wheat, Milk), Maltodextrin, Acidity Regulators (331, 336), Whey Protein (Milk).

“After review, the Food Standards Australia New Zealand does not appear to have a standard of identity or definition for ‘chicken fillet’ and the Australian Chicken Meat Federation does not include it in its terms of ‘Cuts of Chicken Meat’.

Subway added: “The chicken fillet is a formed product and the brand has been using the descriptor “fillet” on the basis of the shape of the product and that the meat is boneless. No reference or claim has been made that the product is from whole muscle and the company has made information about the product readily available to consumers on its website.

“Please note that after evaluation of this matter the company has decided to change the name of this long term product and is in the process of withdrawing the associated advertising with the old name “Chicken Fillet Sub” and renaming the product. The new name will not include the word ‘Fillet’.”

The ASB ruled: “The Board noted that the prevailing community standard on what a fillet of chicken is, does not include chicken presented in pieces or formed or processed chicken meat. In the Board’s view, most members of the community would associate chicken fillets with the breast or thigh portion of the chicken in one whole piece or as a cut of chicken rather than reconstituted into a particular shape.

“Based on the above the Board considered that the advertisement was misleading or deceptive and did breach Section 2.1 of the Food Code.”


  1. anon-e-mouse
    27 Jun 12
    11:58 am

  2. ohhh gee – now i know what’s in them i’m rushing out for mine!!! what a balls-up of a response from Subway

  3. S
    27 Jun 12
    12:01 pm

  4. But maccas still market their chicken McNuggets as chicken and I don’t think that’s chicken Toto….

  5. Jonno
    27 Jun 12
    12:14 pm

  6. Finally! I tried one 10 years ago and had the same response… Perhaps I should’ve taken the next step and complained as well!

    What about their “eat fresh” motto – surely this also needs to be questioned… I can’t remember the last time I ate subway and was “pleased” with the quality of the food… It’s not fresh when it’s been sitting in a Bain Marie for 1+ days… The lettuce is brown and flimsy… Nothing is fresh at subway …

  7. Justin D
    27 Jun 12
    12:23 pm

  8. Agreed, get on to Mcdonalds ASAP. The had some campaign years ago about how they use real chicken breast in the nuggets…but they forgot to mention the Chicken (82%), Flour (wheat), Water, Mineral Salt (450, 451, 452), Salt, Vegetable Oil, Wheat Starch, Sugar, Herbs and Spices, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Egg Albumen, Dehydrated Vegetable (Garlic), Yeast Extract, Soy Sauce (Wheat), Flavours (Wheat, Milk), Maltodextrin, Acidity Regulators (331, 336), Whey Protein (Milk)

    ……….. they put in their nuggets!

  9. Troll Ing
    27 Jun 12
    12:24 pm

  10. It’s fast-food, you’re not that smart if you think it ACTUALLY contains non-processed meat and real fresh ingredients.
    It’s cheap and cheerful, something has got to give….quality.

  11. But that's why its so good.
    27 Jun 12
    12:25 pm

  12. Nothing tastes good without hydrolysed vegetable protein and acidity regulator 331.


    Hardly a big deal or surprise for me. I’d be same or more likely to buy in future.

    But fair play though I guess for most the word fillet is reserved from something carved from an animal in one piece, regardless of whether FSANZ have a particular subsection on acceptable butchery terms.

  13. Tina
    27 Jun 12
    12:29 pm

  14. S – I think it’s a matter of using the term “fillet” rather than chicken 😉

  15. Existential Chook
    27 Jun 12
    12:29 pm

  16. Once again, advertising complaints are hard at work solving those really tough world issues.

    If you’re stupid enough to believe that fast food chicken is anything but processed, then you probably shouldn’t have such strong opinions anyway. It’s dangerous for these types of people to think, in case something explodes. I guess they will also be surprised that there’s not a part of the lamb that’s actually zig-zag shaped?

    If you want real chicken, go to the shop, get some, make it yourself and stop being so lazy!

    Hint: If it’s circular, zig-zag or oval-shaped, it’s probably not hot off the animal.

  17. sylvia
    27 Jun 12
    12:36 pm

  18. “Eat fresh” means its been freshly ‘formed and shaped’ Jonno.. :)

  19. what the...
    27 Jun 12
    12:37 pm

  20. … you mean that chickens don’t grow in a long flat shape? I was sure they did…

    Seriously some people have nothing better do it. Like me who is writing this post.

    I got an eDM this morning with no ‘unsubscribe’ button… now where can I complain to…

  21. Paula
    27 Jun 12
    12:47 pm

  22. Their foot-longs aren’t a foot long either.

  23. George Michaelson
    27 Jun 12
    12:47 pm

  24. Isn’t this why some people not of a french persuayjhon use ‘filet’ ?

  25. Filet lover
    27 Jun 12
    12:57 pm

  26. so then when will Maccas change the filet-o-fish?

  27. Freocookster
    27 Jun 12
    1:07 pm

  28. Maccas makes no claims that its nuggets are ‘fillets’ – they’d have to be bloody big nuggets, or tiny fillets! But they are made from breast meat… the term ‘chicken’ can include any cuts from the bird.

  29. So...
    27 Jun 12
    1:14 pm

  30. I wonder what their Moroccan Lamb really is, and what their meatballs really are. Pink sludge + flavouring?

  31. Matt
    27 Jun 12
    1:51 pm

  32. Subway’s chicken…now with almost 80% chicken.

  33. Al
    27 Jun 12
    2:18 pm

  34. They aren’t even a real subway.
    I was in one for 24 hours and not one train went through.

  35. Healthy Eater
    27 Jun 12
    2:43 pm

  36. @Existential Chook This is the problem; false marketing statements are made to the stupid masses who truly believe that Subway is healthy for them!

    I couldn’t believe that they got away with the adverts when their founder (fatty, now skinny) preaches on about healthy food and losing weight, whilst he sells foot long meatball and cheese sub’s, along with cookies and wait for it: full fat cola and lemonade. Unbelievable!!!!!

    Hey ho, the people peddling fast food advertising (including the designers, ad execs etc) would probably sell members of their own families, so what do they care…?

  37. Bustin Jeibers
    27 Jun 12
    4:47 pm

  38. Has anyone ever actually had a Seafood Sensation? You would have to have an iron stomach to put that anywhere near your mouth as far as I’m concerned.

  39. Cognitively Dissonant
    27 Jun 12
    5:21 pm

  40. I can’t believe no one’s made a joke about this not being the first time I’ve been misled by chicken fillets.

  41. Foghorn Leghorn
    27 Jun 12
    6:02 pm

  42. Say it ain’t so. Next we will find out that the Chipotle sauce doesn’t contain any smoke-dried jalapeños and is merely Chipotle flavoured sauce, and that those fresh baked buns are only 11 inches long. Take away their hats and strike Subway from the Good Food Guide.

  43. Robyn
    28 Jun 12
    9:38 am

  44. So fed up with misleading information particularly with foods. To the person who complained-good on you! We all should step up and speak up when we are being screwed over by Subway and all the others that behave like Subway. And there are many. To say nothing is to condone.

  45. Surin
    28 Jun 12
    10:45 am

  46. Healthy Eater, your statement about “fast food peddlers” selling their families is highly offensive and the “stupid masses” call just highlights your own ignorance.

    To the actual content of your statement .I can’t believe Woolworths calls themselves the fresh food people and have a frozen food aisle. And how does Toyota get off talking about hybrids and fuel efficiency when the sell Landcruisers.

    And the issue at hand, 10 years ago it was acceptable, these days you can’t call a processed Chicken product a fillet. So good call all around, but Subway that response just makes you look silly.

  47. Drew
    28 Jun 12
    3:07 pm

  48. I think advertisers should take a lesson from the one brand who doesn’t over promise with their slogan. Kmart – ‘Ok’

  49. Ponder
    28 Jun 12
    3:28 pm

  50. What about fish fingers? I’ve never seen a fish with fingers that big, nor have fingers full stop.

  51. paul
    28 Jun 12
    4:09 pm

  52. @ But that’s why its so good.
    “Nothing tastes good without hydrolysed vegetable protein and acidity regulator 331. Nothing.”

    HUH? Suggest you take a moment out of your busy day and settle down somewhere nice and quiet, and try putting some un-processed food into your mouth for a change, mate.

    Like maybe an apple, or something.

    Tastes real good: and no HVP, no E numbers, just ordinary food. Like people have been eating for centuries, and like nature provided for us.

    Industrial food is an oxymoron.

  53. toni
    29 Jun 12
    1:28 am

  54. ‘Healthy eater’ the founder of subway was not “fatty now skinny.” The person your referring to was an ambassador for the subway(r) brand. Fred DeLuca is the name you will be looking for there, along with his partner Peter.
    You just call consumers stupid when you yourself clearly took advertising at face value without taking the initiative to extend your own knowledge on this issue.

  55. B
    29 Jun 12
    2:42 pm

  56. Umm, Paul, I’m pretty sure ‘@But that’s why its so good’ was being sarcastic mate.

  57. Taylor Yermolaev
    3 Jul 12
    9:31 pm

  58. @Healthy Eater, Jared Fogle was never the founder of Subway. He was a college student who lost huge amounts of weight by adhering to a diet of a six inch Turkey sub and a footlong Vegetarian sub for his lunch and dinner respectively. Doctor’s Associates founded Subway decades before Jared was involved.