Subway is suing CBC News over a report the fast-food giant uses less than 50 percent chicken in its chicken products and with the remainder being soy filler.
The sandwich chain, which advertises itself as a being a healthy and calorie-conscious alternative to burgers and fries, is seeking $210 million in damages in a defamation lawsuit filed in Toronto earlier this month that it says will counter the charges that have led to significant sales losses.
According to the Subway suit, CBC acted “recklessly and maliciously” in making the charges that were intended to discredit the restaurant and its products.
The lawsuit alleges further accuses CBC of tarnishing Subway’s image by suggesting it would indulge in misleading business practices and sub-standard ingredients to cheat Canadian consumers.
The chicken controversy erupted after CBC’s consumer advocacy news show “Marketplace” aired a program in February 2017 that conducted DNA tests on Subway’s chicken products. CBC said the results of those tests showed that some of the chicken products contained 50 percent or less of real chicken with soy products making up the rest of the material.
Subway further contends that the CBC-initiated DNA tests on the chicken “lacked scientific rigour,” and are in dispute because they were conducted by inadequately trained people using inappropriate methods and interpreted by people who lacked the designated scientific knowledge.
“These false statements … were published and republished, maliciously and without just cause or excuse, to a global audience, which has resulted in pecuniary loss to the plaintiffs,” the company says in the document.
Subway says the CBC piece has dealt a blow to the restaurant’s reputation and brand with a corresponding drop in subway sales. The company also wants CBC to pay for efforts that Subway says it expended to minimize the financial affect of the CBC report.
The allegations all remain unproven and CBC intends to contend the lawsuit, which also names the reporter of the piece and two producers responsible for Marketplace.
A version of the story appeared on the CBC’s website subsequent to the original broadcast of the program, and several tweets on social media also reiterated the allegations made by the show.
At the time of the original airing, Subway called the report false and misleading, contending that its own analysis of the chicken products in question could only find trace amounts of soy content.
The CBC is backing up its reporters and insists the DNA tests were conducted by experts who were objective and credible.