SUBWAY® “Eat Fresh?”

Subway Nutrition Guide

Subway Nutrition Guide

Bill: I like the sandwiches at Subway. I like that Doctor’s Associates, Inc. (yes, that’s the name of the corporation that operates Subway) discloses nutritional information on its sandwiches as well as information on beverages, chips, condiments etc. that it sells. It’s a good looking handout that shows a svelte Jared and a disclaimer that their FRESHFIT® items are not a diet program. The handout touts ten “noteworthy nutrition facts about Subway sandwiches”. I have an issue with number 7 that claims “Better for your heart”.

I noticed over eleven years ago Subway offered a “make it a meal” program where, for a few dollars more you get a bag of chips and a soda. Hypocrisy for the dollar? You be the judge, here are the facts:

The American Heart Association® (AHA) will certify your food product as “heart checked” when it meets certain criteria. I am befuddled at the 800 mg sodium level permitted in a sandwich to be “heart checked”. That’s 1/3 of the recommended FDA RDI for sodium per day just in the sandwich. Now, let’s take in to account the rest of our “eat fresh” meal. AHA has certified 21 items on subways menu including the 6” Black Forest Ham Sandwich (800 mg sodium), and the Club (800 mg sodium).

The AHA’s website also states that a “meal” to be heart checked needs to be under 700 calories. Subway does not state that the meals are heart checked, but it does state that certain sandwiches are heart-checked. Let’s look at our meal:

BFH Sandwich Calories: 290 Fat: 4.5g Sodium: 800 mg Sugar: 8g

Nacho Chips Calories: 250 Fat: 13g Sodium: 310mg Sugar: 2g

Sweetened 21oz Soda Calories: 320 Fat: 0g Sodium 140mg Sugars 87g

TOTAL Calories: 860 Fat: 17.5g Sodium 1250 mg Sugars 97g

Subway does offer alternatives to the higher calorie/fat/sodium sides. You can access all the information at their website

Subway does a pretty good job disseminating information. I just think on this one they dropped out at mile 25 of the marathon.

The crux of this article is that you need to be aware of all the things you consume, not just the main dish. Our meal is not for anyone on a sodium restricted diet. The meal contains over 50% of the RDI for sodium in a regular diet.

Sandy, you actually “eat fresh” mostly. What’s on your mind?

Sandy: Let me preface this by saying that I probably eat “fast food” less than 2-3 times a year so I am definitely no fast food expert. (I do, however, eat in sit-down restaurants on occasion). That said, if I was going to eat “fast food”, I might choose Subway, mainly because I can identify what is in the meal: veggies, meat, cheese. In the back of my mind I know that there is a pretty good chance that the chicken or turkey is a pre-formed poultry product that utilizes “meat glue”. I am also well aware that cured meats like ham, salami, and the like are full of sodium and nitrosamines, which have been shown to be carcinogenic. The addition of a soda and chips to the sandwich (a meal “combo”) negates the possible positive nutritional value of the other items as noted in Bill’s analysis. I believe that Subway offers these additional things in a “combo” to compete with other more nutritionally questionable fast food establishments. If I was going to eat Subway, it would probably be a salad, but if I was going to eat a sandwich, I would stick with LOTS of veggies, chicken or turkey, and perhaps a slice of cheese. I would avoid the chips and drink water instead of soda with my sandwich. If they offered apple slices or similar I would chose that to round out my meal.

Who’s Making Your Food? (much of the time, you won’t know!)….

and it’s difficult to find out.

There has been a trend in the supermarket industry where the chain will have its own brand. Hannaford Brothers has its “My Essentials” and “Taste of Inspirations” Trader Joe’s has “Trader Joe’s”, and the many other chains: Whole Foods, Shaw’s, Kroger, and Publix to name a few, stock private label products produced at co-packers.

In addition to the chains, many well known brands are produced by other companies (Reese, Haddon House, and those canned smoked oysters, mussels and clams made in China for some big brands).

Why is this important? You may want to know who’s producing the food you are taking into your body. You may want to buy products to support local or regional producers. You may want to know if you are purchasing products where the producer has been cited by the FDA for sanitation violations, or warned for misbranding (these are published and can be found on the FDA website). You may have reservations about buying products from a subsidiary of a big chemical producer. Whatever the reason, disclosure is lacking.

Here’s the Rule for who makes the product: (inquiring minds check out FDA CFR21 Sec 101.5 for the full regulation) I’ll paraphrase: Declare your company name, and if you don’t actually produce it you must use the phrase “Distributed By” or “Manufactured For” or any language to indicate you actually didn’t produce it.

Trader Joe’s (and I like shopping there), does not have food factories in Monrovia, CA. It has offices with lots of hard working people, but hundreds of labels at their store show “Distributed by Trader Joes, Monrovia CA”. “Newman’s Own” Salsa is “Produced Exclusively for Newman’s Own, Inc. Westport, CT”. There are no salsa factories in Westport CT.

The regulation has been on the books for a long time. Legislative action would be needed to overturn it. The question is- do we want to?


 Hannaford's "My Essentials" Pasta Sauce: not produced in Scarborough, ME and not produced in Salisbury, NC

Hannaford’s “My Essentials” Pasta Sauce: not produced in Scarborough, ME and not produced in Salisbury, NC