Is it safe to eat Subway? (Safety practices of Subway)
In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Is it safe to eat Subway?”. We also will discuss whether Subway food is healthy, what safety practices it adopts, and the possible dangers of foodborne illness.
Is it safe to eat Subway?
Yes, Subway is a safe dining choice. The Subway website affirms that all food suppliers for Subway restaurants are subjected to thorough third-party audits focused on food safety, including HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) and GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices).
Moreover, this auditing process guarantees the application of good agricultural and harvesting practices (GAPs and GHPs) by their agricultural suppliers. (1)
What is HACCP?
Hazard Analysis by Critical Control Point (HACCP) emerged in the late 1960s as a management tool designed to ensure the safety of food for space missions.
Subsequently, it gained recognition as an efficient alternative to traditional end-point testing, endorsed by organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), among others.
These entities recommended its adoption in commercial food production. HACCP serves as a framework for creating, implementing, and managing effective safety assurance procedures.
It is not in itself a safety assurance procedure but a tool intended for use by individual food companies, including food producers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. They can utilize HACCP as a protocol to develop tailor-made safety assurance procedures that align with their specific requirements. (2)
Is Subway healthy?
Yes, Subway claims to provide a healthier fast food option and suggests it can assist customers in their weight loss goals. Subway is ranked as the leading mega-chain for offering healthy choices. Nevertheless, the genuine gauge of a restaurant’s health depends on whether patrons truly opt for healthy meals there.
If the nutritious options lack visual appeal, aren’t prominently featured, come at a higher price, or are accompanied by high-calorie side dishes, consumers might be less inclined to select them.
Despite its “healthy” reputation, people are likely to order a similar number of calories at Subway as they would at other fast-food chains. Even though Subway offers more vegetables in their offerings, it remains uncertain whether this leads to a reduced risk of weight gain. (3)
What are the possible risks of consuming Subway?
The potential hazards associated with consuming Subway products pertain to the risk of foodborne illnesses. Consuming expired lunch meat, beef, or chicken can result in food poisoning, typically manifesting as gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
In some cases, these illnesses may lead to additional symptoms affecting neurological or systemic functions. Nevertheless, these risks can be minimized by adhering to proper cooking practices and maintaining hygienic food handling. (4, 5)
What are the most common foodborne illnesses?
Listeria infections, often associated with spoiled lunch meat, can result in symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, a stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or even seizures. Both beef and chicken can serve as carriers for various pathogenic bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, and Salmonella.
In the case of a Salmonella infection, most individuals typically manifest symptoms like diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. With a Campylobacter infection, individuals commonly experience diarrhea, which can occasionally be bloody, as well as fever and abdominal cramps. Nausea and vomiting may also accompany the diarrhea. (5-7)
What are the safety practices of Subway?
Subway places a strong emphasis on food safety and provides mandatory training for franchisees and their staff. All team members undergo training and are obligated to follow rigorous protocols for safe food handling and monitoring. These protocols encompass practices such as hand washing, monitoring product temperatures, and strict adherence to shelf-life guidelines.
To handle potential emergencies concerning food safety, Subway takes proactive measures by crafting contingency plans. During such crises, clear communication channels are established, facilitating swift and transparent updates to be shared with all parties involved.
Subway’s food safety policies are at least as stringent as the guidelines outlined in the FDA’s Food Code and The National Restaurant Association’s Serve Safe® program. (1)
What is the Serve Safe program?
The National Restaurant Association created ServSafe as an educational initiative to assist restaurants and various restaurants in following the regulations set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for public safety. To comply with the FDA Code, food establishments need to obtain a Food Manager certification accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). (8)
In this brief guide, we answered the question “Is it safe to eat Subway?”. We also discussed whether Subway food is healthy, what safety practices it adopts, and the possible dangers of foodborne illness.
In my perspective, Subway adheres to very strict rules of hygiene and food handling to ensure food safety. In my perception, Subway is a relatively safe fast-food chain and its products can be consumed safely.
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Subway®, “Promote Well Being” 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.subway.com/en-us/sustainability/well-being/quality-and-food-safety [Accessed: 23-Oct-2023].
ROPKINS, Karl; BECK, Angus J. Evaluation of worldwide approaches to the use of HACCP to control food safety. Trends in Food Science & Technology, v. 11, n. 1, p. 10-21, 2000.
LESSER, Lenard I. et al. Adolescent purchasing behavior at McDonald’s and Subway. Journal of adolescent health, v. 53, n. 4, p. 441-445, 2013.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Listeria Outbreak Linked to Deli Meat and Cheese. 2023.
C. Rius Gibert, Food Poisoning: Epidemiology, Encyclopedia of Food and Health, Academic Press, Pages 67-71, 2016.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Campylobacter (Campylobacteriosis). 2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Salmonella. 2023.
Purdue Department of Food Science. SERVSAFE. Purdue University College of Agriculture. 2023.