What’s in Your Fast-Food Chicken Sandwich?

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Fast-Food Chicken SandwichYou might think you’re making an informed, healthy choice when you order a grilled fast-food chicken sandwich. But the truth is you may not be getting what you expect.

“Oh, what is that?” That’s what my girlfriend asked the other day as I sat down with an oven-roasted chicken sandwich from Subway.

“A chicken sandwich,” I responded.

“Doesn’t look like it,” she said.

Turns out she was right.

Six Grilled Fast-Food Chicken Sandwiches Tested

Later that evening, we watched a report on fast-food chicken…and it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. The “oven roasted chicken” sub I’d eaten just hours earlier contained only 53% chicken DNA. And that wasn’t even the worst offender.

The report, conducted by the Canadian “Marketplace” television show (a consumer advocate/protection news program), DNA-tested six popular fast-food chicken sandwiches, grilled, five of which are likely found on American menus in some capacity.

None of the chicken samples they tested—and they did multiple tests—had 100% chicken DNA.

How Much Chicken DNA Did They Have?

Here are the products they tested…and the concerning results:

  • A&W Chicken Grill Deluxe: Average 89.4% chicken DNA
  • Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich: Average 88.5% chicken DNA
  • Tim Horton’s Chipotle Chicken Grilled Wrap: Average 86.5% chicken DNA
  • McDonald’s Country Chicken-Grilled: Average 84.9% chicken DNA
  • Subway Oven Roasted Chicken: Average 53.6% chicken DNA
  • Subway Sweet Onion Teriyaki (uses chicken strips): Average 42.8% chicken DNA

As you can see, none of the samples contain the 100% chicken DNA you’d expect. If you buy raw chicken from your grocery store, you expect it to be 100% chicken; why can’t you have the same expectation of your fast-food chicken sandwich?

But let’s face it; in reality, being in the 80%-90% range is pretty good for, and to be expected from, fast food. Added seasonings, marinades, and processing decrease the total chicken DNA. So when these things are accounted for, most of the numbers actually make sense—except for Subway.

What’s in There Other Than Chicken?

The study found that the samples contained about an average of 16 ingredients each, basically all of which you’d find in your kitchen cupboard. For example, honey, onion powder, and other ingredients that are safe and approved for consumption—at least in Canada (which has stricter nutrition laws than the United States).

Sodium levels, however, were seven to 10 times higher in the processed chicken than in the chicken you’d buy at the grocery store. This can increase the risk for high blood pressure and heart attack. This is definitely an ingredient to be concerned about.

Subway Chicken Subs Contain…

But what about Subway? What was in its product that caused it to have such comparably little actual meat? Tofu. And although Subway has denied the findings by Marketplace, it’s pretty tough to argue with the data. Put it this way: my girlfriend was able to spot that it wasn’t chicken from across the table!

Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with tofu…but it’s certainly not the chicken advertised.

Anyway, the best thing for you to do is to avoid fast food and opt for home-cooked chicken. You’ll get more protein, less sodium…and you’ll get what you pay for: 100% chicken!


Source for Article
Evans, P. & Szeto, E., “What’s in your chicken sandwich? DNA test shows Subway sandwiches could contain just 50% chicken,” CBC, February 24, 2017; http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/marketplace-chicken-fast-food-1.3993967, last accessed March 1, 2017.