Subway Sandwiches Not Legally Bread, Irish Supreme Court Rules

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. staple / ˈsteɪ pəl / (adj) – consumed or needed regularly

    Rice is a staple food in many countries.

  2. exempt / ɪgˈzɛmpt / (adj) – free from a responsibility or obligation

    Students with health problems are exempt from physical education classes.

  3. whopping / ˈwɒp ɪŋ / (adj) – great or very large

    The start-up made a whopping $55 million profit last year.

  4. insist / ɪnˈsɪst / (v) – to say or state something firmly

    The child insisted that he saw a ghost outside his room.

  5. scrutiny / ˈskrut n i / (n) – close examination or observation of someone or something

    The group’s activities have fallen under police scrutiny.


Read the text below.

Ireland’s Supreme Court recently ruled that bread used by Subway restaurants is not actually bread because of its high sugar content.

The ruling was made after one Subway franchisee in Ireland filed a court appeal for a tax refund. The fast-food chain argued that its sandwiches are made with bread, which is a staple food and must be exempt from Ireland’s value-added tax (VAT).

According to the country’s law, bread is considered a staple food and must be tax-free if its sugar content is less than 2% of the weight of flour in its dough. However, the judges found that all of Subway’s heated sandwich bread options are made with a whopping 10% sugar. Because of this finding, Ireland’s highest court ruled that Subway’s sandwiches fall outside the country’s legal definition of bread.

Despite the court’s decision, Subway still insisted that its sandwiches are made with regular bread. Additionally, the company’s sugar content is not unique since some commercial bread contains almost 6 grams of sugar in just two slices.

Subway’s sandwich bread contains at least one gram of sugar, according to nutritional information on the fast-food chain’s website. The company said that it will review the Irish Supreme Court’s ruling.

This is not the first time Subway has fallen under scrutiny. In 2014, it was criticized after consumers learned that its bread contained a chemical found in yoga mats and shoe rubber. Subway then modified its recipe to remove the chemical.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with Ireland’s Supreme Court ruling that Subway’s bread isn’t actually bread? Why or why not?
• Do you think Ireland’s legal definition of bread is too narrow? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think restaurants should always list the ingredients and nutritional information of their products? Why or why not?
• Would you be interested in becoming a franchisee of a famous business that has been under scrutiny in the past? Why or why not?