Food Babe Investigates: Is Subway Real Food?

This is a guest post from Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe) and New York Times Best Selling author. You can read more about her take on the food industry in her second book, Feeding You Lies!


Subway is the single largest chain restaurant in the world. That means you’ve probably eaten there at some point in your lifetime and if you are like me could possibly have 10 of these restaurants within a 1 mile radius of your house.

But is eating at America’s favorite fast food chain really eating real food?

Subway would certainly like you to think so. With their slogan “Eat Fresh,” marketing with avocados and a guy who lost hundreds of pounds eating their famous sub sandwiches, it’s easy to get duped.

You may also feel tricked when you see a little heart logo, indicating a menu item at Subway is “heart healthy.” Just last week it was announced that the American Heart Association (AHA) has endorsed several menu items at Subway and added the heart logo to indicate which ones.

At every Subway on the “sneeze guard” glass they display one version of their nutritional information – the infamous “6 grams of fat or less” menu. This menu includes calories, fat grams, and that new little heart logo, but doesn’t display anything about the ingredients.

Doubting that Subway or the AHA would actually ever create a real food information guide for you, I decided it was time to do this myself. Below are the “6 grams or less” menu items and critical real food information you should know about each choice.

Let’s take a closer look.

  • Subway definitely keeps it fresh and I figured out how. Every single one of their items on the “6 grams or less” menu has preservatives to keep it …well…fresh! Sure Subway makes your meal right in front of you, but what is really happening behind the scenes? Boxes of already cut up and prepackaged processed foods and chemical additives are being shipped from Big Food industry factories to each location.
  • The 9 grain wheat bread might look and smell freshly baked but it contains close to 50 ingredients including refined flours, dough conditioners, hidden MSG, refined sugars, etc. Could bread this processed ever be real food? Certainly not, when it includes a chemical ingredient called azodicarbonamide, which is banned as a food additive in the U.K., Europe, and Australia, and if you get caught using it in Singapore you can get up to 15 years in prison and be fined $450,000. Azodicarbonamide is more commonly used in the production of foamed plastics, however, it is allowed in the United States as a food additive, a flour bleaching agent, and a dough conditioner that improves elasticity of bread. The U.K. has recognized this ingredient as a potential cause of asthma if inhaled, and advises against its use in people who have sensitivity to food dye allergies and other common allergies in food, because azodicarbonamide can exacerbate the symptoms. Let’s not forget it only takes 4 or 5 simple ingredients to make REAL whole-wheat bread including flour, yeast, salt, water, and maybe honey.
  • Three sandwiches on this menu, along with several other menu items not listed, are comprised of processed meats and filled with nitrates and forms of MSG. The consumption of nitrates need to be taken very seriously. Nitrates are frequently converted into nitrosamines, which have been proven to increase the risk of disease dramatically. The latest research from World Cancer Research Fund declared that “processed meat is too dangerous for human consumption.” Studies have shown it may only take 1.8 ounces of processed meat (about half of what is in a typical 6 inch sub) daily to increase the likelihood of cancer by 50%heart disease by 42% and diabetes by 19%. I still know people who eat Subway for lunch everyday, but I’m glad I don’t know anyone on the actual Subway Diet. Sheesh. I can’t imagine what their percentage would be, could you?
  • Can you believe the American Heart Association is now putting their seal of approval behind these processed meat based Subway menu items? WOW. After all these studies that show an increase in heart disease? Is this a joke? Even the processed turkey meat that seems harmless because it doesn’t contain nitrates is full of preservatives, chemical flavorings, and carrageenan. I wrote about carrageenan last month after the Cornucopia Institute revealed a study that once the food grade version of carrageenan is ingested it turns into a carcinogen in your digestive system.
  • Preservatives and even artificial colors are added to many of their “fresh” vegetable offerings – like the banana peppers and pickles. The ingredients for the black olives unveiled a new additive I learned about, “ferrous gluconate,” which is an iron based preservative that helps keep olives black.
  • While the “6 grams or less” menu says the totals don’t include cheese or salad dressings, it is important to know that some of the cheeses offered at subway also have artificial colors, preservatives, and even cellulose that’s made from wood pulp.
  • Two of the healthiest sounding salad dressings were actually the worst based on my analysis. Fat free honey mustard and the red vinaigrette both have corn syrup, artificial colors, preservatives, and other chemical additives.

To top it off, the majority of foods at Subway have been conventionally sourced and probably include pesticides, antibiotics, and/or growth hormones. In my research, I didn’t find one single organic ingredient or menu item available at over 36,000 stores. Even the lemon juice comes in a pre-packaged squirt pack filled with preservatives. Because of this I haven’t consciously ever considered going to a Subway in the last 7 years.

Last weekend, I broke this streak and went into a Subway in search of real food. I have to admit the thought of going into a Subway and ordering off the menu was a little bit daunting, but I decided this was the best way to get the answers to my questions, like whether or not their avocado was really fresh or not.

Could it be possible for me to order something and actually take a bite without squirming? Going against my Eat With Your Dollars philosophy and purchasing something from the “bad guys” went against every bone in my body. But I did it.

Watch it all unfold in the video below. Everything at Subway may not be “fresh” but if you are ever stuck on a deserted island and this was the only place you could eat… now you know what to order.

Special thanks to Nicole Galuski for filming

P.S. You can check out my favorite “fast food” sandwich I am eating now and how to get it here.

Comments have been closed on this article, which was written by Vani Hari. If you have a question or comment you can reach her at http://FoodBabe.com.

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505 thoughts on “Food Babe Investigates: Is Subway Real Food?”

  1. Is not just Subway has chemicals in their food, all fast food and even in stores. Go check the bread you have and read the ingredient!!!

  2. “a chemical that is used in” doesn’t mean it’s an unhealthy chemical. I bet another chemical that is used in making rubber is water. Better take that out of their bread too.

  3. Subway is the single largest chain restaurant in the world. That means you’ve probably eaten there at some point in your lifetime and if you are like me could possibly have 10 of these restaurants within a 1 mile radius of your house.

    1. Thats what I was suspecting if really the veggis are real or GMO and I was suspecting too, the could be GMO food, may be I should ask this next time?

  4. Ok so Subway has processed food, and isn’t as good as making your own.
    It is virtually impossible to get away from processed food in this country. Even the majority of the food you buy in the grocery store is processed.
    But how does it rate as compared to all the other fast food choices.
    I mean is it better than McDonalds, Burger King, Culver’s or even KFC.
    Even with the “not so fresh” veggies it has to be better than any of the others, right?

    1. Virtually impossible to find fresh food? Have you ever heard of a co-op or farmer’s market? They have them all over the US and in every town I have ever lived in. You get fresh locally raised meat and produce. You just have to spend the 5 seconds it takes to type “farmer’s market near ” in your favorite search engine. In the time it takes you to type “virtually impossible to get away from processed food in this country” you could have already found real food.

  5. About 7 years ago or more ( can’t remember ) was the last time I went into a Subway .

    I used to like their subs, but the last time I tried one, I could not taste any difference between the bread the meat or the lettuce .

    The whole thing just tasted like cardboard or something other than real food .

    I never went back and won’t ever again .

  6. You should see their ice machines a couple months after cleaning……the evaporator coil is covered in black slimy mold, I figured out that it is from the yeast in the air. By law they don’t have to have exhaust fans due to the electric ovens so a cold dark humid environment like a ice machine is a mold motel

  7. Bitch got dumped by her Subway boyfriend so she writes this trash article. Go back to your 100 level college writing course.

    1. Chon Williams Staulker

      Chon – get your tiny dick out of your mouth for one minute…then go jump under a bus.

  8. I made the mistake of eating a subway club while I was reading this article and almost threw up my food when I read about the chemicals in the sandwich I was consuming. And I was totally digging the actual spicy taste of my European, twice the price of an American equivalent sub! Hopefully its not the same here or else I’m going to loose it.

  9. But what about eat freshly cheap for $2 a 6 incher in the month of December?

    Look it here. December is the only month that you can dive into a subway sandwich. After Dec is over, you detox your body for the remainder of the 11 months.

    You Americans are too spoiled. Wait till you visit a third world country where there do not have a choice. Next sandwich is on me, literally. I don’t just eat fresh, I eat one for you too. Now back to slickdeal dot net. LOL

    1. Storerobber why don’t you move the hell out of America if you think we’re spoiled. You don’t like it leave.

  10. While I don’t doubt much of what is written here, lack of evidence is what gives people reason to believe you’re pulling this out of your hat.
    The only way to get 100% fresh anything is to buy from a small local seller. Don’t go to a supermarket, go to a butchery for fresh meat and a produce stand for fruits and vegetables.

  11. I went to a Subway Restaurant in Columbia South Carolina a few weeks ago and the girl fixed my sandwich better than what you see on TV. I asked her if she would get in trouble for fixing it that way and she said that every store can do it if they want too.

  12. Spoiler alert: deli meat in general is full of preservatives, salts, and other additives. So is the bread you buy in the store.

  13. I just checked the ingredient info on subway website and says 2‰ or less contains those chemicals..so is it that bad? I have nevergot sick from eating subway sandwich and I always feel comfortable and not sleepy after i eat them

    1. What % of cyanide would you need to decide a food was not healthy to eat? The % is not as important as the chemical. This site pushes “real” food but enriched foods, that is food with added vitamins and minerals are one of the greatest advances in health in this country and indeed around the world where available. I don’t know that I need plastic in any of my food, my bread doesn’t have to be elastic…

  14. Just FYI

    The links in this sentence above:
    ” Studies have shown it may only take 1.8 ounces of processed meat (about half of what is in a typical 6 inch sub) daily to increase the likelihood of cancer by 50%, heart disease by 42% and diabetes by 19%. ”

    Merely leads* to another blog. That blog’s sources? OTHER BLOGS.
    So, these figures lead any interested person in a wild goose chase for the source of the “STUDIES”. Therefore, these figures are, to me, guesstimations by an anonymous source. Possibly a blogger, or someone else who doesn’t know how to do / doesn’t have access to subscriptions for scholarly research. Why cite, in general, “studies”? “studies” is meaningless without a proper citation directing the reader to a proper source.

    Therefore, most of this article seems to be bunk. Although, I will accept that subway has lots of artificial ingredients in general, because this article cannot provided verified specific information.

  15. Just FYI

    The links in this sentence above:
    ” Studies have shown it may only take 1.8 ounces of processed meat (about half of what is in a typical 6 inch sub) daily to increase the likelihood of cancer by 50%, heart disease by 42% and diabetes by 19%. ”

    Merely need to another blog. That blog’s sources? OTHER BLOGS.
    So, these figures lead any interested person in a wild goose chase for the source of the “STUDIES”. Therefore, these figures are, to me, guesstimations by an anonymous source. Possibly a blogger, or someone else who doesn’t know how to do / doesn’t have access to subscriptions for scholarly research. Why cite, in general, “studies”? “studies” is meaningless without a proper citation directing the reader to a proper source.

    Therefore, most of this article seems to be bunk. Although, I will accept that subway has lots of artificial ingredients in general, because this article cannot provided verified specific information.

  16. Thank you so much for this information! Have you done this for other “healthy” fast food chains? Or restaurants? I’m always trying to explain my reasoning to other people but they just don’t get it. Thanks!!

  17. Interesting read. thank you. I am curious however; with the preservatives mentioned being outlawed in Europe can Subway claim its ‘Freshness’ here?

  18. Wow. Now we don’t need any proof of GMO’s. The fear mongering of public opinion on GMO’s is so strong you can just write “Likely” and people won’t eat the food.

  19. More propaganda from the organic, anti-science lobby. Not everyone can afford to grown their own vegetables in their backyards. Unsubstantiated claims about believed additives is just a matter of faith, not science. Making organic, unprocessed foods is beyond the pay range of everyone but the 1%. Subway is a healthy alternative to burger and taco joints and anyplace that puts grains and vegetables above sauce and meat should be encouraged.

    1. I’m not a part of the 1% but we eat mostly unprocessed foods. They’re not always organic but at least they’re not full of artificial colors, fats, sweeteners, preservatives, etc. I cook everything from scratch and it doesn’t cost extra money (in fact, a lot of times it’s less) it just takes time. I’m a full time employee and the mother of a 15 month old. So we had to make our diets a priority in order to make it work. It’s a choice.

      And just for the record, with the exception of the “Likely contains GMO’s”, all the additives are actually listed in the ingredients list which you can obtain from their website.

  20. A lot of fast food chains have the ingredients of there food on there website. Or when you go there ask to see the ingredients list on the case they come in there all in the back. Unless its really busy they should grab the box for you check for yourself. Say your allergic to something and you want to double check the ingredients.

  21. Vani, you really owe people reading your blog the source of your information. Did your send Subway food to an actual third-party lab for analysis? Did Subway provide you with detailed analysis of ingredients? Until then, this is all heresay and makes it almost impossible for people to take you seriously.

  22. I used to eat at Subway about once a week. But it started making me really bloated and tired. I figured it was the bread, so I changed to their flatbread and that did not help. So I started eating their salads and it was even worse. Then I found out they put MSG on their veggies. That is when I stopped eating at Subway! But at least know I know a little more about what was causing this. Good article. Thanks for posting it.

  23. Thanks for spreading the word about the difference between real food and food with preservatives, etc. We are trying to educate customers, too, since we make Wave Hill Breads in Norwalk, CT, out of natural ingredients and we make our breads and pastries by hand. We bring them to farmers’ markets and also retail food markets including Whole Foods and Stop & Shop, as well as local food stores in Fairfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut and Westchester County in New York State.

  24. Wonderful items from you, man. I have take into account your stuff previous to and you’re simply extremely magnificent. I actually like what you’ve received here, certainly like what you’re saying and the best way in which you assert it. You’re making it entertaining and you still care for to keep it smart. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a great website.

  25. How is it that this person creating the chart would know that these items contain GMO’s. It says ‘Likely contains GMO’s’. That doesn’t really give good information at all. It almost makes me assume that the entire chart should have ‘Likely contains’ before each unwanted item.

  26. From where do you get your information? This article present facts without telling the readership how you got the facts. Let me be clear that I do believe you, but I would like to see the facts for myself and so I can show others.

    1. Well, one of the sources quoted was an article written by someone who I would not call credible, and the World Cancer Research Fund, on their website said that they’ve never said what was quoted in both this article and the article that she is quoting from.

      The latest research from World Cancer Research Fund declared that “processed meat is too dangerous for human consumption.”

      Here is the link to their response to this claim:
      http://www.wcrf-uk.org/about_us/media/press_release.php?recid=217&utm_source=s-m-story&utm_medium=webpage&utm_campaign=wcrfhome

      Of course, processed foods are bad, but to say that they’re too dangerous for human consumption is a far stretch.

  27. Paper thin meats, thick breads, and high prices usually keep me away. I admit, when I travel and there is a Loves ahead, I will get a cold cut combo. But when I want a real sub sandwich, I go to Firehouse or Jason’s Deli. Jason’s is the epitome of shops outside of NYC. I’m serious, lets take a cold cut combo. It has six paper thin slices of meat. They would make it thinner except there aren’t enough molecules to hold it together. Compare that to Jason’s and it has a minimum of 25 slices of meat for the same priced sandwich. No wonder Subway is a financial success for its management.

  28. I love this article but one thing that poped out to me was ferrous gluconate. Yes it is an additive to the olives to keep them black (it also makes very black poop) but it is also a supplement for iron (also found all/most pre natal vitamins). I am an RN and i frequently give this to people to keep there iron levels up to help with hemoglobin after surgery. I think saying it is a preservative may be mis leading to some people.

  29. I do not like Subway Food, it looks like the most disgusting protein sources I have ever seen. I do get myself the veggie patty there, and now even their bread is starting to stink.

    But the worst thing for me is the way they scream, “Helloooooooooooo Sir, How are you, Whaaaaaaat can I get you”, such hyperness in that place that I do not feel I am eating food, it is more like someone is giving you free food and yelling at you.

    1. No worry at the Subways in my town. They never look up, don’t greet you, and when its your turn they just say, “and what do you want.”

  30. I’ve eaten subway for years and somewhat bought into their scheme. But just recently I’ve bought a few subs with few toppings, mainly meat, cheese and one vegetable and all the meat I’ve tasted, especially the turkey has a slight chemical taste. Unlike any preservatives or msg’s I’ve tasted before. My wife and I will not eat at subway anymore. We do not need anymore poison than what were being force fed thru popular food and our water supply already. Let the boycotting begin. Like it will do any good with all then ill informed and uncaring sheeple out there.

  31. In Regards to azodicarbonamide…

    “…includes a chemical ingredient called azodicarbonamide, which is banned as a food additive in the U.K., Europe, and Australia, and if you get caught using it in Singapore you can get up to 15 years in prison and be fined $450,000.”

    So how does Subway do it in those countries where azodicarbonamide is banned? I have visited US and lived in Europe, Singapore and now live in Australia and had subway in all these countries and the subway taste pretty much the same. Why do they have to use azodicarbonamide in the U.S?

  32. I would have to say that if most people would look at the food labels and read what is in their foods most people would pay more attention like i do know. I was not aware of all the chemicals that are placed in foods to preserve the freshness. I was in a class with a local doctor that works with the olympic teams and he explained what the chemicals are and how harmful they can be. Take a sec to look at a food that you eat. Look at the contents and look up the checmical names and see for your self what they are. I will make sure i read every food label that i consume.

  33. Subway tastes pretty good, that’s all that matters to me. All food is processed now, one way or another. She seems to just be nitpicking.

    1. So you don’t care if there are 50 ingredients in your bread as long as it “tastes pretty good”? There are ways to get bread that does not have 50 ingredients in it. Not ALL food is processed.
      Sheesh.
      I cannot believe people put things in their body…the very fuel that keeps us alive…without a thought in the world. Scary.

  34. First of all I love your articles and I love you too ;) Are there any “fast food” places that do not poison us .. Let’s say I am on the go and have little time and my seven year old is screaming bloody murder he’s hungry before Karate practice. What are the best options?

  35. Wow… Very informative. I definitely thought Subway wasn’t the worst place to eat…certainly not optimal as it is still considered a fast food place, but I’m definitely not going to settle for them if I can get away with it. I’m also a vegan so I feel like sometimes options are limited especially whilst one is travelling and so forth. To be honest, anything I make at home tastes a hundred times better anyway! :)

    Thanks for this article!

  36. What a coincidence I was in a pinch today and needed something to eat fast, I was staved. I opted for a subway veggie sandwich on wheat bread no mayo and was wondering how healthy “or not” my meal actually was and walla! Here I go. Great info, thanks for the post.

  37. Js I always assumed Subway was exactly like this therefore I chose to
    Eat only veggie delight when eating there. Common sense is
    A virtue as is a profitable squirmy blog.

  38. I’m one semester away from my dietetics degree and I fully agree with everything she published. I haven’t eaten at Subway in years, and like her I would say to stick to a veggie salad if you have to go there. And although it’s not necessarily worse than other fast food places, people tend to eat there specifically because they think it is healthy or fresh.

    I hate how the AHA endorses this food but every organization has it’s price. Personally I hate how the American Dietetic Association takes money from Coke and Pepsi, seems completely hypocritical. But then again they aren’t advocating that Coke and Pepsi are healthy…

    Also for anyone stating there is “no research to support….”, have you actually looked through professional journals to see there is no research to support something, or are you just guessing? Because there is a lot of research to support negative effects of food additives like artificial food coloring, MSG, etc. I just spent months writing a research paper on how bad artificial food coloring is, and it’s scary. And yes even artificial food coloring from natural sources (like caramel coloring) also have evidence against their use.

    Just remember to do your own research on stuff like this. If you don’t agree with the author then fine, but don’t just use another internet article to determine if it’s true or not. Use professional journal articles or something to that effect.

    1. A published journal on the internet is the same as a published journal in a college library.

      This is a flame article that does nothing more than inflict terror on the reader.

      If anyone has any doubt about that, then do research on your own, and you will see.

  39. It is quite easy to pick one single fast food chain i.e. Subway and diss them about how unhealthy their food it. However, for any study to be meaningful ALL comparable fast food chains should be analyzed as well. Arbys, McDonalds, Burger King, Carls Junior, Panara Bread, Wendys, Weinersnitzle, In N Out Burger, and Taco Bell just to name a few should be included and compared. Food Babe apparently has an agenda and she has singled out Subway to make a point. While she may be correct in her conclusion that all the Subway ingredients she lists are not as healthy as they could be, in the fast food universe, what fast food chain does NOT serve processed food. For each of the brand name chains in a study, on an ounce per dollar basis, which lunch meal is relatively safe with respect to fat, sugars, sodium, and msg as compared to all the others in the study. Until Food Babe does that, I do not respect her study. Subway may have its issues but I prefer a sandwich healthwise from them over one from McDonalds although I do frequent both establishments. .

    1. John – I think the reason Food Babe decided to focus on Subway is that most deem it as one of the “healthier” fast food options. Most people will not argue with the fact that all of those other places you mentioned (Arby’s, McDonald’s, etc.) are worse in comparison. I think she chose to do this research on Subway because, as you said, it is one of the “better” fast food options so many people therefore automatically think it is healthy. She is simply enlightening us in the nutritional information. I think we can all agree that many of those other fast food establishments are worse, therefore eliminating the need for Food Babe to do such an extensive study on them as well. I’m glad she chose to do more research on this “healthy” fast food to confirm the fact that it is not, in fact, healthy. Sure, a sandwich from Subway may be the lesser of two evils compared to a big mac from McDonalds, but this information is demonstrating that the sandwiches we are eating from Subway are still doing more harm to our bodies as well!

    2. McDonalds, Arby’s etc does not claim to be “fresh” and is not promoted by the Heart Association. I think that Food Babe was trying to show us (those who actually care about where our food comes from and the long-term effects food has on the body) that just because a company claims to be “fresh”, “all-natural”, “organic” or whatever, you should research and find out what you’re putting in your body. The number of cancer sufferers increases greatly every year. I’ve lost 4 family members to colon cancer, stemming from bad eating habits so this is not a joke. I’d rather live to be 90 years and healthy then to 60 years old, in and out the hospital.

  40. I don’t see what all the negative comments are about. The overall premise of the article is that Subway say that their products are ‘healthy’ and ‘fresh’ when in fact they are not . Food babe has scientifically debuunked their advertising gimmicks and for that we owe her thanks.

    Now if you want to continue to eat it that is absolutely fair enough. But you do it knowingly, not blindly. End of.

  41. Why pick on Subway?? They’re a fast food restaurant! And compared to the OTHER fast food restaurants available they’re DAMNED healthy! You need to put these things in some kind of context rather than bang away at a company that seems to me to be at least TRYING to provide a healthier alternative. I LOVE their chopped salads! I suppose you could find something negative to say about them TOO, but they’re still better than a Big Mac. Sheesh!!! A bit of perspective please!!

  42. I liked your article “Food Babe Investigates: Is Subway Real Food?” and I am curious if you have written any about grill food.

    If you want to do something and if I can help, please let me know!

    I developed a concept I pretend to launch in US food service market that will provide grill food free of carcinogens. No pre-cooking, real grill food but in a way I will eliminate the carcinogens production in special the benzopyrenes.

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  43. I never eat at Subway. I don’t care if I’m starving! I’ve always said that you cannot distinguish the different flavors of the meats, no matter which sandwich you order. They all taste the same and have that compressed texture, chemical- salty taste. The “ham” taste exactly like the “turkey”. In a taste test, I would bet money that people could not guess if the cheese was Cheddar, American or Swiss. They all taste the same too. If you can’t even guess what you’re eating buy the “flavor”, it’s probably not good to eat…
    I would love to see your “assessment” of The Great Outdoors. I like their sandwiches much better, but would love to see if I’m fooling myself on the ingredients.

  44. I Always knew fast food was very unhealthy but had no idea how devastating this food can be. What is more alarming is the impression of healthy food with bread and vegetables both of which are treated with so many chemicals their positive effect is cancelled and even reversed. What about Panera Bread? This is the only chain type restaurant I visit. Would be very interested in your investigation of this eatery.

    1. That was completely uncalled for… Some people will never understand until they are laying up in a hospital bed at 55-60 years young with some ill disease that started in the gut.

    1. They are both used as preservatives but nitrite occurs naturally in veg & fruits and increases in charred meats. Both Na nitrite and nitrate lead to formation of nitrosamines endogenously and become reactive with DNA. If you are going to eat there do yourself a favour and have your sandwich with a glass of orange juice. It will help.

  45. Just happened onto this site searching for something else – thought I’d take a look around.
    I’ve eaten a Subway sandwich here and there so I wanted to see what this article is about.
    Well, it seems it’s about a lot of ‘scary’ buzz-words that the author likes to throw around to get readers riled up.

    MSG – there is NO, let me repeat, NO legitimate study that has ever produced any, let me again repeat, ANY confirmation that MSG causes headaches or any other health issues. And definitely not in the quantities that people normally ingest, even those where it is used extensively. What’s more, MSG is a simple sodium compound that is found NATURALLY in almost every food there is. Is it in most root plants (sugar beets are the prime source for extracting MSG for commercial sale), many leafy vegetables, even red meat, no matter how ‘organic’ or free grazed contains MSG.
    There is simply no legitimate evidence it is the evil chemical its name has come to mean.

    ANY color that is not naturally occurring in the food is considered “artificial”. That doesn’t mean it’s automatically bad. And even the ones that are color sources not produced by some living plant, doesn’t mean they are automatically harmful.
    You can combine (carefully) sodium and chlorine in a laboratory and yes, it was artificially produced. But it’s still just plain old ordinary salt.
    Using words like “chemicals”, “artificial”, “organic”, etc… as scare-tactic buzz words is as dangerous as the food you claim is bad for you.
    For many things, it’s about quantity. Arsenic is found in many ‘natural’, organic, foods. But it’s only deadly in lethal doses. People can eat those foods daily and live long, healthy lives. But in large enough quantities, even water consumption will prove fatal.

    I had to look up “World Cancer Research Fund” because unlike the “American Heart Association”, I’d never heard of them before. I didn’t see anywhere the kind of credentials the AHA has garnered over the years. I didn’t find any discussion of how they do their testing, who does their testing, how objective and un-biased (or not) their aims are in their research. So when comparing the information supplied by expert sources, it’s a good idea to know how trustworthy they are.

    As for “cellulose”; that one made me laugh pretty hard, the way it was mentioned as if it was some kind of bizarre, vile petroleum derivative. Cellulose is the material in ALL plant life that is used to form the cell walls (again) of ALL living plants. Any plant material you eat is going to have cellulose. It actually is the fiber that so many real nutritionists insist we must have in our daily diets. So when it is left as a by-product of juice extraction, and instead of throwing it away as waste product, it is processed and sold as a fiber additive for people to get added, needed fiber in their (probably not great otherwise) diets, how can this be a bad thing. But this author throws it into the list of ingestable horrors, most of which are just the usual buzz-word scary stuff.
    I’m not sticking up for Subway. It’s a fast food joint. Nothing more.
    But I am apposed to flame writing, especially when it seems to rely on jargonistic terminology rather than sound, supportable, reliable research.
    I fully appreciate self-study and do-it-yourself, hands-on kind of research. It’s fun and can be rather informative. But please, let’s not confuse that with the term “expert”. Clearly the author is a “food activist”. And I didn’t expect to see anything but slamming the subject to be written here because of that. But I’m not seeing a great deal of “expert” at work here all.

    1. Tara, I think her point is…if you were to make your own cheese or lunch meats at home you, more than likely, you would not add cellulose, MSG…etc to your own food. It’s not that she or any of the rest of us are so ignorant as to think none of these additives are in the public food supply. Her “beef” and mine also, is that Subway’s whole selling point is “fresh”…”healthy” ingredients. Those words instead of being, in your own words…”scary buzz-words, they are “tricky buzz-words”, giving you the image of minimally processed, pure, chemical free foods, such as you might have in your own home.

    2. Have you actually looked through professional journals to see there is no research to support something, or are you just guessing? Because there is a lot of research to support negative effects of food additives like artificial food coloring, MSG, etc.

    3. MSG gives me migraines. It makes me vomit. The top of my head begins to tingle and it spreads. There are many forms f cellulose but wood pulp isn’t digestible and it shouldn’t be in my food or my laundry detergent. Have enough allergies already. My bread now has yoga mats in it. My daughter was in a coma and when she came out, they started her on red popsicles. She went ballistic. She is allergic to red dyes. Be a non believer. I’m 47. Fesh food used to be great. Processed food is a killer. All my bees died from pesticides.

    4. Thank you Tara for being the voice of reason. Reading some random article online isn’t doing “research.” So far, nobody anywhere on this website has made references to a respected journal or media source, eg. a published scientific study done by a respected research group or facility (eg. Harvard or another major university) that contains enough information so that one could replicate the study to achieve similar results. This article and those like it seem to use circumstantial correlations and presents them as facts when they are speculative at best. I’m not saying that some of this information isn’t completely false; all I’m saying is that there isn’t enough indisputable evidence provided to prove that it’s true.

  46. On Pine Ridge reservation, a subway has come into town. It’s just about the only chain on the rez. It’s managed locally. It’s aided people in losing weight – because it’s the only source of veggies quick fresh food that lots of folks are getting at the moment.

    Long of the short of it: I laud you on the effort to push back against the idea that subway is inherently good and healthy. However, context matters. That subway is a great thing on that rez…for now.

  47. I’m not sure what to make of this article, though as a sport student at university I understand explicitly the effects of nutrition. I’m a vegan so I will discuss it from my perspective. There is a lot of claim to the harmful ingredients in the bread, yet compare it to 99% (educated guess) of fast other food restaurants and i’m sure you’ll find Subway to be significantly better. Also you haven’t took into consideration the salad, which as a subway employee I know is farm fresh. Another point is that your argument is based on people having the money to buy organic etc.

    I’m not disagreeing with your claim that Subway isn’t the healthiest place to eat considering its slogan ‘Eat fresh’, but I think you could place yourself on both sides of the fence and explore the benefits rather than exposing the negatives. Also I think I was “in search of real food” I wouldn’t be analysing fast food chains, since logic would explain that it is a fast food chain! Not some fancy restaurant.

  48. Subway in my opinion ranks as one of the TOP in numbers for TASTELESS and NASTINESS, look in the dictionary under the word BLAND and you just might see a SUBWAY sandwich……How in the world do they manage to say in business ?

  49. By the way, there’s also absolutely nothing wrong with eating previously frozen veggies. Freezing the veggie [or fruit] does not take away any of it’s nutrients. Any decent nutritionist will tell you that if you can’t or don’t want to buy fresh, just get frozen! It is just as good for you, and will be much easier to store and use in small increments. So I don’t know why she notes that all of the veggies and the avocado were frozen. It doesn’t matter in the slightest. Even if you grow all of your own food, trust me, you’ll end up freezing most of it for later use, if not pickling it so that it keeps longer.

  50. I actually used to work at Subway, and while I won’t argue at all with this analysis of the meats and breads/dressings used there, 97% of the veggies/toppings we sold there were cut fresh in the back before being placed on the sandwich bar. At the very least, they were cut/sliced and packed in a very cold cooler for a maximum of an hour or two before being used. This usually only happens once during the day, before a serious lunch rush. Whether or not fruits and veggies are organic also doesn’t really matter much if you aren’t eating the skin or rind. It depends on what kind of fruit/veggie it is. I’m not saying Subway is fantastic and healthy food, and I’m not saying it should be eaten regularly, but it really is one of the best ‘fast food’ options out there, and if we’re being realistic here, most of us will end up needing to grab some kind of fast food at some point. People should know the lesser of the evils, at least.

  51. People try to find things wrong with everything. I will continue to eat Subway subs. You don’t think they are healthy, don’t eat them.

    1. It isn’t a matter of opinion, nor does it have anything to do with “people [who] try to find things wrong with everything”. (see the food babe’s rave reviews of healthy independently produced products) It is a case of you ignoring the facts, while you continue putting food in your body that will likely make you one more of the hundreds of millions of casualties of our predatory system of food production that was built on the systematic destruction of the family farm system that came before.

    2. It’s not “thinking” they’re not healthy, they aren’t!
      But keep stuffing your face without a care in the world. Let’s see where that gets you.

  52. I think the main point of the article is to inform us; whether or not you choose to believe her claims and/or question what you (we) put into our bodies, the facts are there. Perhaps SUBWAY will offer some “organic” selections if enough people ask for them. (Ever wonder why there aren’t any organic/natural fast food chains?) For those decrying the expense of organic food vs. processed, I ask “why skimp on nutrition?” Strange how we spend megabucks on what goes on our bodies, the toys we just have to have, but save money (for now) on nutrition.

  53. Oh, and just from being mindful of my body i can sort of tell when what ive just eaten is “real” food or if its extremley processed with dozens of ingriedients. Subway just makes me feel kinda crappy all over. I have a 6 inch in the fridge that will probably be my last subway sandwhich for a long while.

    BTW sorry about my previous comment, but the girl in that video is gorgeous and couldnt help myself. Keep doin your thing homegirl.

  54. I agree that processed food is not the best for health. However, there’s a cost, in terms of money and time, to live on only “real food”. To do that, we need to be farmers, or quite rich to afford everything fresh and organic. This is not going to happen anytime soon for the majority of population.

    If you have the luxury of choosing the real food, good for you. For most of us, we just have to make do with the lesser of the evils. Many modern inventions (like computers, cellphones, decorative materials etc.) are not really suitable for the human body that evolves much slower to adapt. There’s no need to take the extreme positions.

    1. Or go to a Farmer’s Market?
      It’s really not that difficult to NOT eat crap from Subway.

  55. I eat at subway several times per week. I will continue and also encourage others to do so as well.food babe sounds like a vegan or some other food nut that has to inflict her lifestyle on others,I give no credence to this person and neither should the rest of America .

    1. Even if she is vegan, that fact has nothing to do with this article. She’s trying to convey that Subway’s food is FULL OF CHEMICALS.

      Greg, you sound awfully smart. Keep eating your processed meats that are full of nitrates. Let me know colon cancer is!

      1. Stephanie, everything we eat is made from chemicals. So your argument isn’t going to hold water. What Greg is saying is that, not everyone is agreeing that some of these food additives, when present in very small amounts, are inherently unhealthy. It is sort of a trade off. In order to serve people the freshest, safest food possible, so things have been added to keep them from having harmful bacteria, that could make someone sick.

        I am not for any additives, myself, but with a population of over 300 million, the bottom line is that we need to keep our food as fresh and good as long as possible to feed everyone. Unless we greatly add to our population of farmers and food production locally, it won’t change.

      2. Good points Rick. If people truly are concerned with chemicals in their foods, then they’d not eat out at all and invest heavily in their own farm. Even foods labeled “organic” in supermarkets are studied and proven to not really be truly organic.

        The human body is incredibly resilient. The average American body has an excessive amount of toxins from eating alone and trying to mitigate that amount by avoiding Subway every once and a while will only go so far to make them “healthier.”

      3. Subway isn’t “eating out” anyway. People who take an active interest in eating real food do so because they understand that it is a major key to our health or the lack thereof. If the ridiculous cancer and heart disease rates in America aren’t enough to make you take it seriously, perhaps the hideous and escalating obesity problem will eventually convince you. Our corporate food system is killing us by the millions, and Americans continue to shrug it off. The human body is resilient, but not enough to withstand the abuse of the typical American fast “food” diet.

      4. “so things have been added to keep them from having harmful bacteria, that could make someone sick. ”

        Huh?
        How about they just use fresh vegetables?
        I can’t believe there are pro-preservative people out there. takes all kinds…

    2. So because someone doesn’t eat animal products, he or she is a “food nut”? How do you reckon? Perhaps she’s just very cognizant of what she eats? What’s wrong with that? I happen to like my body and want to be strong, healthy, and live to a ripe old age without any major ailments, so sue me.
      No one forced you to click on the article.

  56. The first time I ever went to a Subway, with my son-who has eaten there numerous times, I stood behind a father and his son , while looking at the food behind the “SNEEZE GUARD ” glass ,(which had a 2″ to a 3″ gap from the top of the counter to the bottom of the guard) the little boy sneezed below the glass , right into the food and I promptly took my son and left, and have never returned !

  57. I liked reading this story, but I’d like to know where all the facts came from? I don’t blindly believe all the information I read on the internet. Did the Food Babe conduct all the scientific analysis herself? Or, is there a scientific report associated with these facts?

  58. Good article, good to know. I would like to hear about High Tech Burrito, my current favorite fast food.

  59. The avocado is fresh (not frozen) in Los Angeles Subways. You can watch them cut it right out of the avocado skin.

  60. Food Babe, can you do an investigation of Panera as well? It positions itself as “healthy”, but I often wonder what ingredients are hidden in their food.

  61. I quit buying from Subway when they changed their tuna salad sandwich from tuna salad to a tuna-flavored mayonnaise sandwich. They saved money on the sandwich cost, and so did I. I just don’t go there any more. Too bad. It was a great sandwich before they ruined it to save a few cents.

    1. Subway makes the tuna salad there, they get a package of tuna and add the mayo, so it’s possible they had accidentally added too much mayo that day. It’s made fresh everyday..at least it was when I worked there in 2006.

    2. I worked at Subway from 2010-2011 and was always getting in trouble for not adding enough mayo to the tuna. I agree with you – it is primarily mayo with some tuna thrown in. Yuck.

  62. It seems to me as if there’s only one way to avoid eating/drinking something that might contain something that isn’t good for you in one way or another:

    Don’t eat! Don’t drink! Choose whether or not to Be Merry!

    Soon, ye shall die–either of starvation, dehydration, or both!

    I think I’d rather eat something from Subway…

  63. Old Bill Collins

    Are you telling me that the millions of us who switched from our favorite burger place to Subway did not make a good health choice?

    1. If you switched from eating at a basic burger joint to eating at Subway, you definitely made a better health choice. It may not be the absolute pinnacle of health, but it’s still a far healthier choice than a greasy [probably low-quality, factory farmed] burger and some fries that are literally dripping with oil. Just because Subway isn’t the ULTIMATE food choice, doesn’t make it as bad as any and everything else. These things are all on a spectrum, you just have to stay informed and make the best decisions you can when you are given the choice.

    2. Yep.
      The power of advertising.
      The subs may have veggies in them, but at 50 ingredients for the bread, artificial flavors and colors, and preservatives, it’s no better than a burger and fries.
      You’d probably be better off making your burgers and fries at home and skipping Subway.
      And I say that as a vegetarian.

  64. Why is everyone backing the bus up on Subway? It’s a great place to grab a meal on the go. I’m pretty healthy. I run daily–I finish in the top 2% of the races and triathlons I do–and here’s what I recommend: Pile a lot of veggies on a 6″ sandwich (don’t worry, you won’t die from any poisonous sprays). Go easy on the condiments and bread. I usually get tuna or turkey with all the fixings (extra olives) and then add a little light mayo, oil and vinegar for the dressing. I often ditch the top half of the bread (Most places get the bun to burger ratio way off). Skip the chips and soda, just get a water cup–it’s cheaper and better for you. (Side opinion: gum and pop are for kids). If you’re active, go ahead and grab a cookie or a parfait, they’re both really good! Just don’t overeat, stay active, and don’t beat yourself up.

    1. “Why is everyone backing the bus up on Subway?”
      -Did you bother reading this article? Educate yourself!

      “gum and pop are for kids”
      -if you think pop is for kids, i suggest you educate yourself about childhood obesity. It’s an epidemic. Have you heard?

    2. You work for Subway, don’t you?
      Sounds like you’re doing some PR damage control for them.

  65. I don’t understand the bashing either…shouldn’t we already know that Subway isn’t the best thing for us seeing as how their business is based on processed lunch meat? This info is really interesting and helps explain why I could never feel full after eating a sub from there. I saw them refilling the meat counter too many times and everything (just like at Taco Bell) comes in a box. Nothing is natural about that. Criticize this article or not…it’s your choice what you eat, and eventually you see an end product come out of what you eat whether that’s fat or sickness. Just don’t blame anyone when you get sick…you were warned.

  66. i actually went to subway last year when they had the “avacado” sub and it wasn’t even really avacados itmwas a squeeze bag full of some sort of green paste. disgusting. thank you for this article

  67. My gawd but Americans have become neurotic about food!
    It’s an EFF-ing sandwich, made with ingredients available in the grocery store, but made for me by someone else.
    B.F.D.
    If you don’t want to eat at Subway, fine, don’t. But don’t act like the place is gonna kill ya.

    1. “made with ingredients available in the grocery store,”

      Did you even read the article? Can’t recall the last time I used azodicarbonamide in anything I made at home. I also don’t use preservatives, nitrates, or food coloring.
      Please. READ before commenting.

  68. Here in UK we have provenance issues, as highlighted by the horsemeat found in ‘beef’ products. Is it the same in the US?

  69. Every single food chain in the world macdonalds, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Harvey’s. all of that crap is all behind the government and the government wants population control. They want our cancer diabetes and diseases to keep going. Did you know Monsanto has huge barns guarded with all natural seeds? Look it up. It’s true. They know what there doing. Did you know a can of coke has more then 100 times your daily sugar intake? And we wonder why everyone is obese. Is fructose or corn syrop really needed in everything? NO! And we defiantly don’t need aspertain in our diet drinks! It fries your brain cells! I would rather drink the regular cola! Even our organic farms have been taken over by the Monsanto seeds already. Even organic food is not always safe. This is what the government wants they out all that stuff in the foods to keep us weak minded! Pink slime? Yeah it’s real look that up to in your meat! 60-99% is not real beef!

    1. i so agree with you. the government backs all of this gmo and fake food to make us sick and depressed and fat so we’ll go to the doctor and get a prescription to benefit big pharma

  70. I tink those usefull information could be available in schools, churches, communities centers and labor union where they feed people with products contaminated.

  71. Me daughter has a done a lot of research on the foods ???? We are eating also…..my only suggestion is don’t state “they also probably contain______” state only what you know thru research you have done ……it makes your good work more credible. Thanks for the insights.

  72. When at home, I prepare my own food. But what are we supposed to eat while traveling? Fast for a few weeks at a time?

    We have to eat something and lack the time to research restaurants wherever we happen to be.

  73. What about salad dressing? All commercial salad dressings are gmo soybean oil! Also, the vegetables are not organic, so they have chemicals sprayed on them. I agree, this is the healthiest meal you could get there,but far from perfect. It is harder and harder to get real whole food all the time, but we just have to do the best we can!

  74. Funny, a few years ago I decided that there was something unappealing about a subway sandwich and I just avoid it like the plague – now I know why! Trust your gut – it always tells you the truth.

  75. I think a lot of this stuff could be true. Nothing beats home cooked
    meals where you actually see everything that goes into making a great meal. Subway does have a lot of things going for it, as the
    food on the line always looks fresh. The thing about eating out is
    you should not live that way eating out 7 days a week, but hey
    a one stop a week place to enjoy what you are hungry for is a great
    idea and lets the mom enjoy herself not having to cook for her family. Plus it serves as a time of getting together with friends
    at a special place to eat. Do not hurt business places cutting them
    down. They need our help so people will come to their place for food.

    1. Perhaps the dad should cook once in a while, then?

      “Do not hurt business places cutting them down. They need our help so people will come to their place for food.”

      So maybe they should offer food that is not full of preservatives, coloring, nitrates, pesticides, etc.? Why in the *world* would I support a business like that? In a free market, if you can’t hack it…if you can’t get with the times…you go under. If Subway goes under, they deserved it; I don’t owe them my business.

  76. A Subway is less than a mile from our home. Our teenage grandson worked there for a while. His advice: DON’T EAT IT.

  77. Where did you gather this information? What “research” did you actually do? This seems so far-fetched it’s ridiculous! The things that go into those sandwiches are not any worse than what you would buy at the grocery store! And really bleaching agents in the bread. Have you ever bought bread? Most flour is bleached, especially in white bread. This article is basically a ploy to get people to freak out about what they’re eating! Congrats, you managed to scare all of the ten people who read your article. Next time, maybe you should state something about where you got your information so that your article doesn’t look bogus or made-up, unless of course it is. In that case, no need to cite where you gathered your information.

    1. @Anonymous (Feb 8, 2013)

      Cause I can put faith in the quality of food from huge corporations? They have great track records. How incredibly foolish, …perhaps thats why you are ‘Anonymous’?

      Just cause you don’t like the truth, doesn’t make it go away. Keep eating Subway if you like, be all the guinea pig you want to be.

    2. Say…take it easy pardner! Suppose she does cite you her sources,will you believe her then? Seems to be a lot of venom poured out on a person when all she’s done is state her case, to a lot more than “ten people” as it happens. Which is her right. We are all at liberty to eat where and how we wish,and we should appreciate anyone who helps others make informed decisions about our nutritional choices. Because,though I verily tremble for fear of your great wrath to actually point this out to you,our great food manufacturing corporations have not been entirely forthcoming about what they add to their products to prolong shelf life and to improve the cosmetic appearance of their goods. I don’t have to believe or accept everything she may have presented here,but I think she ought to be respected and not insulted,especially not by someone who hides behind the cloak of anonymity to be offensive and,dare I say,petty and small.

    3. Dear Anonymous, Why would you support the postion that processed food is so wonderrful. Take the taste test. Eat a home grown tomato, then eat one out of the store. Which one is better? Don’t be so hard on someone trying to help

  78. Good for you for taking this on. Independent research like this is needed. I hope that you find more ways to get this research you’ve done out to more people. I recently read an article where some scientists were testing for arsenic in chicken meat. They were able to run a comprehensive substance test on the meat because the lab they were testing at offered this at no extra charge. The results showed things the scientists had never remotely expected to find, such as traces of prescription drugs such as Prozac, among others. Upon further investigation it was revealed that this is apparently fairly common practice, and is done to prevent chickens from being depressed, as it is believed that happier chickens actually make better meat. Keeping them doped up I suppose must be less expensive than letting them leave their cages. The fact that this is done is fairly appalling, I feel due to the fact that trace amounts of these substances are bound to find their way into humans consuming the meat. Information like this needs to be more readily available for everyone.

  79. Well when I eat at Subway- and mine’s in the UK, I don’t bother with the bread rolls at all I have a wrap, and not always a meat one- I know in the Uk we are better off than the States when it comes to what’s in our meat if it isn’t a burger or processed into a fully premade meal, we usually know what’s in it, and can choose not to eat it if we wish, so I sometimes go for the chicken tikka- yes I do know that chicken can be messed with and spices can be faked too but otherwise I choose a plain salad one with everything but the chopped tomatoes in- as they make it soggy, and drop dressings for the same reason- it’s probably about the healthiest takeaway sandwich around, as most are steam baked white or brown bread with mayonnaise based dressings to keep them moist in a plastic wrapper or container sometimes even made the night before with miles to travel before they get to the store where you will buy it though we do have Burger King KFC and McDonalds as well here too

  80. Are you done now? Just because the internet exists doesn’t mean you should post. Better luck next time sweetie.

  81. Those ingredient are not Subways’ special secret recipe, I believe
    all industrial doing the same, so, what and where is our next meal?
    Plant our own vegetable and raise our own cattle?
    We live in a modern century, somehow need to compromise somethings.
    Need x-ray, you compromise radiation, need electricity, PC, celphone, you need to compromise you time, health…. to work for more money…… so what is the point of this article?
    and why point at Subway not others?

  82. @Duff It’s low minded comments like this that really make me laugh. You learned a little bit of chemistry in high school didn’t you. Of course all matter is made of chemicals. No one said they weren’t. I’m sure all of us viewing and reading this are aware we are talking about man made chemicals in food that didn’t originate in the food itself. I treat people like you Duff in my clinic everyday. People who have had their head buried in the sand for years and are now willing to do anything and spend any amount of money to save their life. Duff I think you should go drink petroleum. After all it’s natural and a chemical so by your reasoning it should be fine. Let us know how it goes.
    Well done piece. The most important thing people can do for their health is eat real food. Golden rule.

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