Doctors Group Hits Subway with Social Irresponsibility Award for High-Cholesterol Sandwich and Inappropriate Health Claims

The Physicians Committee
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NEWS RELEASE March 18, 2014
Doctors Group Hits Subway with Social Irresponsibility Award for High-Cholesterol Sandwich and Inappropriate Health Claims
NEWS RELEASE March 18, 2014

Doctors Group Hits Subway with Social Irresponsibility Award for High-Cholesterol Sandwich and Inappropriate Health Claims

Promoting Menu as “Fresh,” “Heart-Healthy,” and “Key to Staying Fit” Earns Subway SICK Penalty

The Physicians Committee – a nonprofit of more than 10,000 doctors – has awarded Subway with the SICK (Social Irresponsibility toward Consumers and Kids) Award for March in response to its newest advertising campaigns that promote Subway as a healthful choice. Subway has earned the award for billing its menu of high-calorie, processed food products as fresh, heart-healthy, and the key to staying fit. 

Dietitians with the Physicians Committee analyzed Subway’s menu and produced a report with the findings. While the company’s slogan promises that customers will “eat fresh,” the analysis revealed that the popular Italian BMT contains 138 ingredients, of which 55 come from three forms of processed meat, which have been linked to a host of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

The Physicians Committee also discovered that Subway has been using the American Heart Association checkmark for heart health on products like the Double Chicken Chopped Salad, which contains 100 mg of cholesterol. “The Double Chicken Chopped Salad has more cholesterol than a Big Mac,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D, director of Nutrition Education for the Physicians Committee. “If you opt for this salad, the only thing you should be checking is your cholesterol. And there is nothing heart healthy about high cholesterol."

The group also cited Subway for its new Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt ad campaign, which features Olympic athletes promoting the 1,160-calorie dish. In the commercial, several gold-medalists urge consumers to taste the sandwich, which packs chicken, cheese, fried chips, and 26 grams of fat onto a foot-long sandwich roll.

“No sandwich with as much fat as the Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt will keep you fit. No sandwich with three types of processed meat is heart healthy. And no processed meat should be called fresh,” says Levin. “Promoting processed meat for heart health is like promoting smoking for your lungs. When was the last time you saw an Olympian smoking?”

The Physicians Committee has chided Subway for spending advertising money to coax consumers into making dangerous choices in the name of health. The SICK Award alerts consumers to the millions of dollars restaurant chains and food manufacturers spend on misleading advertising and other efforts that push the public into choosing unhealthful foods. The doctors group has also offered resources to consumers seeking the truly heart-healthy and fresh items on Subway’s menu and has produced a report with the findings.

For a copy of the report, award, or an interview with Susan Levin, please contact Laura Anderson at 202-686-2210 or LAnderson@PCRM.org.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Laura Anderson
202-527-7396 office
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