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Irish Supreme Court Weighs In On…Bread?

Cover Photo by Raphael Nogueira via Unsplash

If you’ve become completely desensitized to bizarre headlines, get ready for another one. On September 29, Ireland’s Supreme Court released a ruling proclaiming that the “bread” sold by sandwich giant Subway is, indeed, not bread. The topic made it to Twitter’s trending page on Thursday, catching the attention of casual bread lovers and connoisseurs alike.

Believe it or not, there’s more law behind bread than we might initially realize. The item is classified as a “staple food” under Irish law, and so it escapes the value-added tax that is imposed on several other edible items. The catch, however, is that this law also dictates a maximum cap of 2% sugar composition by weight of the flour. Where does Subway’s bread fall on this continuum? A whopping 10% sugar content, indicating that the product will now be susceptible to an additional tax of 13.5%. Perhaps the company just couldn’t rise to the occasion. (See what I did there?)

What’s equally interesting is that this is not the first time the composition of Subway’s bread has come under public scrutiny. Back in 2014, consumers were disturbed by the presence of azodicarbonamide (ADA) in the franchise’s bread, pointing to the use of ADA in products ranging from yoga mats to insulation. Although ADA is somewhat commonly used to whiten flour and improve bread texture, the consumers succeeded in their advocacy with the help of a digital petition. 

Perhaps, then, not all publicity is good publicity. In the United States alone, the global company shuttered roughly 1,000 franchises in 2018. Since then it has focused on adjusting its offerings to appeal to a dynamic consumer market, a large fraction of which has come to condemn either carbs, meat, or both.

The takeaways from Subway’s bread debacles? The proof is in the pudding, and the duties are in the dough. 

What do you make of the Irish Supreme Court’s ruling? Let us know in the poll below. 

Cover Photo by Raphael Nogueira via Unsplash

  • How do you classify Subway’s sandwich material?

    • 100% bread
    • a yoga mat?
    • dessert


Written by Megan Pontin

Enthusiastic word-collector, avid pancake-consumer, and experienced hammock-lounger. Student at Cornell University.

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