A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Marketplace investigation uncovered something not quite fowl in fast-food restaurants. A DNA analysis of the chicken in several grilled chicken sandwiches and wraps from popular fast-food chains found that at least one restaurant is serving up something not quite chicken.
Marketplace and DNA researcher Matt Harnden, from Trent University's Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory, tested the poultry from six popular chicken sandwiches: McDonald's Country Chicken, Wendy's Grilled Chicken Sandwich, A&W's Chicken Grill Deluxe, Tim Hortons' Chipotle Chicken Grilled Wrap, Subway Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich and Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki (strips).
Two samples of five of the products were tested in the first round, and one sample of Subway's chicken strips. Then three smaller samples were isolated and retested.
The results may have you rethinking your order.
A&W Chicken Grill Deluxe averaged 89.4 per cent chicken DNA.
Wendy's Grilled Chicken Sandwich averaged 88.5 per cent chicken DNA.
Tim Hortons Chipotle Chicken Grilled Wrap averaged 86.5 per cent chicken DNA.
McDonald's Country Chicken (grilled) averaged 84.9 per cent chicken DNA.
And the Subway samples -- so different from the others they were tested again -- scored at 53.6 percent chicken DNA (oven-roasted) and 42.8 percent chicken DNA (strips).
The rest? Mostly soy.
While "restructured" meat products -- basically smaller pieces of meat that are broken down and combined with ingredients to extend shelf life and add flavor and "value," i.e. save money -- are commonplace, these figures, especially Subway's, are pretty damning.
CBC reached out to all five chains for response; three wouldn't give out exact ingredient information for proprietary reasons, one had no comment, and Subway condemned the results, issuing this statement:
SUBWAY Canada cannot confirm the veracity of the results of the lab testing you had conducted. However, we are concerned by the alleged findings you cite with respect to the proportion of soy content. Our chicken strips and oven roasted chicken contain 1% or less of soy protein. We use this ingredient in these products as a means to help stabilize the texture and moisture. All of our chicken items are made from 100% white meat chicken which is marinated, oven roasted and grilled. We tested our chicken products recently for nutritional and quality attributes and found it met our food quality standards. We will look into this again with our supplier to ensure that the chicken is meeting the high standard we set for all of our menu items and ingredients.
You can read the company's individual responses here, but one thing is sure: that 100-percent, all white-meat chicken breast probably isn't quite that.
So what do you think? Will you stick to chicken?