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Is Subway sandwich bread actually... a pastry?

Subway footlong unwrapped on a tray at a Subway restaurant table
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

It behooves fast food chains to pump as much sugar into your meal as possible—not just for taste, as in the case of, say, Domino’s sweet mango habanero wing sauce, but also to make these menu items go down easy and remain maximally appealing to our bellies and brains. Sugar, like sodium, is not always a substance your palate can pinpoint in your food, but it’s likely to be there. And the Supreme Court of Ireland recently decided that enough was enough: Subway sandwich bread, it was determined, contains too much sugar to meet the legal definition of bread.

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According to the Independent of Ireland, because of the bread’s high sugar content, Subway’s sandwiches could not be considered a “staple food.” The reason this categorization matters is that staple foods are exempt from a value-added tax (VAT), whereas “certain other baked goods made from dough” (i.e., pastries and the like) are subject to the tax. The Guardian points out that Subway bread not only exceeds the amount of permissible sugar in staple foods, but contains five times as much sugar as permitted by Ireland’s Value-Added Tax Act of 1972.

Will this latest ruling make it difficult for Subway to continue marketing its sandwiches as the healthy fast food alternative? Probably not. It’s mostly just a reason for everyone to dunk on Subway. Remember when the chain couldn’t stop the press from saying mean things about its chicken? Or when no one came to its Twitter poll party? This is all Subway as usual, and it’s likely the chain’s executives will continue to grin and bear it.

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And while this is a good reminder to monitor the sneaky sugars in the everyday foods we eat, this might ultimately be less of a PR headache for Subway than the yoga mat bread scandal of 2014.

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

Dead_Elvis, Inc.

The Guardian points out that Subway bread not only exceeds the amount of permissible sugar in staple foods, but contains five times as much sugar as Ireland’s Value-Added Tax Act of 1972.

That’s probably why no one ever orders the VAT Act a second time - just not sweet enough. Plus, it makes a terrible sandwich.