It has the shape of bread, the color of bread, the smell of bread … but it is not bread. One of the two main ingredients in fast food chain Subway’s sandwiches contains so much sugar that they cannot legally be considered bread. This has been ruled in a ruling by the Supreme Court of Ireland, after a legal dispute.
A Subway franchise in Ireland, Bookfinders Ltd., filed a complaint in court considering that some of its products, such as herbal teas, coffees and hot sandwiches, should not be taxed, while they had paid them to a guy 9.2% compound. They asked to be reimbursed for their expenses from January 2004 to December 2005.
But the magistrates rejected this demand from the company. In a judgment published on September 29, they ruled that the bread sold by the chain contains too much sugar to be considered a “staple food”, exempt from taxes.
“It is not in question that the bread that Subway offers in its hot sandwiches has a sugar content of 10% of the weight of the flour in the dough, and therefore exceeds the specified 2%”, reads the sentence, which also specifies that the law distinguishes between bread understood as a basic food and other baked products “that are, or are very close to, confectionery or processed products.”
The ruling puts an end to a long dispute over the Subway franchise in Ireland, which, with it, has gone to court four times to try a tax cut. The chain has about 42,500 restaurants in 100 countries, as published on its website.
Irish law, dating from 1972, makes a distinction between basic food (bread, tea, coffee, caceo, milk and “meat or egg preparations or extracts”) and “whims” such as ice cream, chocolate, cakes , chips, corn and roasted nuts. Consider that bread is the product made from a mass of cereal flour and yeast or another agent that supplements it. Sugar, fat or improvers can be added, but provided they do not exceed 2% of the weight of the dough.