Ouch; that has to hurt. An Irish court has ruled that Subway bread is actually not bread according to the country’s law.
In a judgment published on Tuesday, the court ruled that the bread served at the US chain could not in fact be defined as bread because of its high sugar content.
The ruling came in an appeal following a tax dispute brought by Bookfinders Ltd, an Irish Subway franchisee, which argued that some of its takeaway products – including teas, coffees and heated sandwiches – were not liable for value-added tax. Ireland’s Value-Added Tax Act of 1972 draws a distinction between staple foods such as bread, tea, coffee, cocoa, milk and “preparations or extracts of meat or eggs” and “more discretionary indulgences” such as ice-cream, chocolate, pastries, crisps, popcorn and roasted nuts.
The act also has a strict provision that the amount of sugar in bread “shall not exceed 2 per cent of the weight of flour included in the dough”.
“There is no dispute that the bread supplied by Subway in its heated sandwiches has a sugar content of 10 per cent of the weight of the flour included in the dough, and thus exceeds the 2 per cent specified,” the judgement read, categorising it instead as “confectionery”.
In a statement, Subway disagreed with this classification.
“Subway’s bread is, of course, bread,” the company said.
“We have been baking fresh bread in our restaurants for more than three decades and our guests return each day for sandwiches made on bread that smells as good as it tastes.”
A six-inch Subway roll contains three to five grams of sugar, except for gluten-free, which has seven, according to data from the company, which is the world’s largest fast food chain with more than 1,300 stores in Australia and 38,000 worldwide.