If you’re one of many Canadians who opt for chicken sandwiches at your favourite fast food restaurant, you may find the results of a CBC Marketplace investigation into what’s in the meat a little hard to swallow.
A DNA analysis of the poultry in several popular grilled chicken sandwiches and wraps found at least one fast food restaurant isn’t serving up nearly as much of the key ingredient as people may think.
In the case of two popular Subway sandwiches, the chicken was found to contain only about half chicken DNA.
Will Mahood, a loyal customer who considered Subway chicken sandwiches a lunchtime staple, was alarmed by the findings. To Mahood, messages from fast food companies can make it sound like “you’re taking it straight from a farm and it’s just a fresh piece of meat.”
DNA researcher Matt Harnden at Trent University’s Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory tested the poultry in six popular chicken sandwiches.
An unadulterated piece of chicken from the store should come in at 100 per cent chicken DNA. Seasoning, marinating or processing meat would bring that number down, so fast food samples seasoned for taste wouldn’t be expected to hit that 100 per cent target.
The Peterborough, Ont.-based team tested the meat in:
McDonald’s Country Chicken – Grilled
Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich
A&W Chicken Grill Deluxe
Tim Hortons Chipotle Chicken Grilled Wrap
Subway Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich
Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki (chicken strips)
NOTE: The tests were on the meat samples alone, without sauces or condiments.
In the first round of tests, the lab tested two samples of five of the meat products, and one sample of the Subway strips. From each of those samples, the researchers isolated three smaller samples and tested each of those.
They were all DNA tested and the score was then averaged for each sandwich. Most of the scores were “very close” to 100 per cent chicken DNA, Harnden says.