Subway’s chicken fillet is not a fillet at all: chain found in breach of advertising code

Fast-food chain Subway has been forced to rename its Chicken Fillet, after the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) found it to be misleading, because it is not in fact a chicken fillet, but rather processed meat.

The chicken fillet option, which has been available in Australian restaurants for 10 years, will now be referred to as the Classic Chicken, because it is made up of processed meat, shaped together to look like a fillet, and not in fact a genuine chicken fillet, as the name suggests.

Subway is in now in the process of changing signage at its 1300 stores across Australia.

The ASB received a complaint from a consumer who realised the meat was processed.

“I purchased a chicken fillet subway roll and when I got it home I was disgusted to find after biting it that it is in fact a processed chicken piece,” the complaint said.

“My understanding of a chicken fillet is a fillet of chicken not processed chicken meat.”

The restaurant chain tried to defend the name, claiming that because there had not been any other complaints, it should be allowed to stay.

 “The “Chicken Fillet Sub” has been offered for sale in Subway restaurants throughout Australia for at least ten years,” it said in response to the complaint.

“The brand has not substantially changed the formula for the product during this time period.

“The ingredients for the Chicken Fillet in the Chicken Fillet Sub as listed on the brand’s website are as follows: Chicken (82%), Flour (wheat), Water, Mineral Salt (450, 451, 452), Salt, Vegetable Oil, Wheat Starch, Sugar, Herbs and Spices, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Egg Albumen, Dehydrated Vegetable (Garlic), Yeast Extract, Soy Sauce (Wheat), Flavours (Wheat, Milk), Maltodextrin, Acidity Regulators (331, 336), Whey Protein (Milk).

Subway blamed the lack of standards as to what constitutes a ‘fillet’ as part of the problem.

“After review, the Food Standards Australia New Zealand does not appear to have a standard of identity or definition for ‘chicken fillet’ and the Australian Chicken Meat Federation does not include it in its terms of ‘Cuts of Chicken Meat’, it said.

“The chicken fillet is a formed product and the brand has been using the descriptor “fillet” on the basis of the shape of the product and that the meat is boneless.

“No reference or claim has been made that the product is from whole muscle and the company has made information about the product readily available to consumers on its website.”

Nonetheless, Subway has decided to change the name of the chicken offering, and not use the word ‘fillet’ when referring to it.

The ABS ruled that while there was no definitive standard on what constitutes a ‘fillet,’ the name insinuates that is a single, quality cut of chicken.

“The Board noted that the prevailing community standard on what a fillet of chicken is, does not include chicken presented in pieces or formed or processed chicken meat.

“In the Board’s view, most members of the community would associate chicken fillets with the breast or thigh portion of the chicken in one whole piece or as a cut of chicken rather than reconstituted into a particular shape.

“Based on the above the Board considered that the advertisement was misleading or deceptive and did breach Section 2.1 of the Food Code.”

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