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Subway's 50 Percent Soy "Chicken" and 5 Other Times Fast Food Betrayed You

These disturbing fast food facts may make you reconsider your diet.

A Canadian investigative news series recently reported Subway’s chicken patties aren’t all bird. CBC Marketplace enlisted third-party researchers to test the chicken from six popular fast food sandwiches.

The Trent University Wildlife Forensic DNA lab tasked with testing found that Subway’s Oven-Roasted Chicken contained a mere 54 percent chicken DNA, while Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki came in at 43 percent chicken. For those of you who flunked math in high school, that’s just over two-fifths.

So what else is in there? Researchers say it’s soy. (Perhaps that’s actually good news for flexitarians?)

By comparison, patties from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, A&W, and Tim Hortons were all found to contain more than 84 percent chicken DNA. (Apparently, seasoning, marinating, and processing can all bring down a 100-percent score.)

Naturally, Subway disputed the claims, citing flaws in the study. The restaurant chain, which serves about 5,300 sandwiches per minute, eventually released independently conducted tests which refute the findings, claiming that the chicken in question contains less than one percent soy protein.

But the truth is that this isn’t the first time a popular fast food chain has been called out for “dubious” ingredients. If you’re consuming this stuff, you can never really know what you’re eating.

Listed here are some of the grossest fast food scams to make the news in recent years.

1. The Famous McDonald’s “Pink Slime” Burger

British chef Jamie Oliver took on fast food giant McDonald’s when he exposed the company’s practice of “washing” beef fat in pink-hued ammonium hydroxide and using the mixture to fill their patties. According to the Naked Chef, the offcuts used are unfit for human consumption prior to the “sliming” process.

Jamie finally won out against the fast food chain when they announced they would change their recipe.

2. Wendy’s Chili: Sandy Goodness?

Wendy’s Rich and Meaty Chili is low in fat and rich in taste. But what is it that gives Wendy’s chili that distinctive taste? It might just be silicon dioxide. Sometimes known as silica, it’s a chemical compound found in quartz stones and sand. That’s grainy goodness.

3. The “Premium Egg Blend” That Contains A Bunch of Chemicals (And No Eggs)

When Forbes writer David DiSalvo decided to investigate whether the egg patties in some of the country’s most popular breakfast sandwiches actually contained real eggs, his findings were more than a little bit disturbing. Subway’s “eggs” contained a strange brew of eggs and a so-called “premium egg blend.” In the premium egg blend? Dimethylpolysiloxane, a type of silicone, glycerin, a solvent found in soap, calcium silicate, a sealant that is used on concrete, and propylene glycol, a solvent that’s also used in anti-freeze. Looks like the days of simply cracking an egg are long gone.

4. Pizza Sauces: FDA-Approved Maggots

Thought your favorite pizza sauce was safe from all this fast food grossness? Nope. According to a guide from the FDA’s Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations section, tomato-based paste, pizza, and other sauces are seized upon detection of “30 or more fly eggs” or “2 or more maggots” per 100 grams. Yummy.

5. Anti-Freeze Iceberg Lettuce?

Most fast food restaurants don’t offer a list of the exact ingredients in their lettuce — though you might have naively thought they wouldn’t need to. Unfortunately, propylene glycol, a chemical also used in anti-freeze, is a common additive used by fast food chains to keep lettuce leaves looking fresh and crispy. Propylene glycol is considered safe for consumption — it’s also found in sexual lubricants, by the way — but that doesn’t mean you should eat it.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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