In Ireland, Subway’s sandwich rolls are not legally bread

13 Oct 2020

The Irish Supreme Court ruled that Subway bread is not legally considered as such. Instead, its sugar content, which is five times above what Irish law specifies as the acceptable threshold for bread, lands the company’s sandwich rolls in the confectionery category. The ruling was a result of a tax dispute case.

This finding by Ireland’s highest court requires Bookfinders Ltd., an Irish Subway franchise, to pay a value-added tax (VAT) on its sandwiches. Sweets and pastries are not considered an essential food under Irish law and are, therefore, subject to a value-added tax of 13.5 percent under Ireland’s VAT Act of 1972. “Staple foods,” like bread, are not subject to this tax. However, to qualify as a staple product, the Irish government defines bread as a product where “fat, sugar and bread improver, subject to the limitation that the weight of any ingredient specified in this subclause shall not exceed 2 percent of the weight of flour included in the dough.”

In Ireland, Subway’s sandwich rolls are not legally bread
Image via Flickr

In the judgment, the court ruled, "There is no dispute that the bread supplied by Subway in its heated sandwiches has a sugar content of 10% of the weight of the flour included in the dough, and thus exceeds the 2% specified."

Subway maintains that its bread is only bread, and MarketWatch reported that the company is currently reviewing the tax ruling.

This latest ruling from the Irish Supreme Court was heard on appeal after the case meandered through four appellate courts over 14 years where it was heard and then subsequently dismissed in each case. Subway’s Galway-based franchisee sued the Irish taxing authorities for a refund of VAT paid between 2004 and 2005. The company argued that its heated sandwiches, coffees and teas were eligible for 0% VAT. The composite VAT rate they paid was 9.2%.

Subway is not unfamiliar with controversy. The company came under scrutiny in 2014 when reports surfaced that its bread was baked with a chemical used in yoga mats. In response, the company removed the ingredient and changed the recipe. Depending on whether the company accepts the ruling from the country's highest court, it could consider another reformulation of its sandwich rolls in order to qualify under the legally defined definition for bread.

Related news

U.K. begins exporting beef to the U.S. for the first time since 1996

U.K. begins exporting beef to the U.S. for the first time since 1996

12 Oct 2020

After over two decades of prohibiting the importation of beef into the U.S. from the U.K., the government of the United States lifted the ban this October to allow for U.K. beef producers to trade across The Pond.

Read more 
Indian trade association calls to waive license renewals for food businesses

Indian trade association calls to waive license renewals for food businesses

2 Oct 2020

As the lingering pandemic continues to upend routine business practices the world over, Indian trade association, the Federation of All India Vyapar Mandal, is requesting that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) not require license...

Read more 
Tesco partners with Olio to reduce food waste in U.K.

Tesco partners with Olio to reduce food waste in U.K.

1 Oct 2020

Tesco is partnering with the food sharing app Olio to redistribute surplus food nearing its sell-by date from its stores to local communities and individuals that are food insecure. The two companies will roll out this effort across all of Tesco’s 2,70...

Read more 
Germany working to impose human rights and environmental supply chain protections by 2021

Germany working to impose human rights and environmental supply chain protections by 2021

25 Aug 2020

Germany is taking the lead on human rights and environmental protections in the European Union. The country plans to pass a Supply Chain Law that will oblige companies to analyze whether their business activities have an adverse effect on recognized hu...

Read more 
The British Meat Processors Association calls for a shelf life extension for fresh meat

The British Meat Processors Association calls for a shelf life extension for fresh meat

20 Aug 2020

Current UK food regulations limit the shelf-life of fresh meat to 10 days when stored at 3-8 degrees Celsius. However, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) is aiming to persuade the UK’s Food Standards Agency to extend those guidelines to all...

Read more 
New Umami salt can help manufacturers improve their Nutri-Score

New Umami salt can help manufacturers improve their Nutri-Score

10 Aug 2020

Sea salt producer Salt of the Earth has developed an umami ingredient solution to help manufacturers reduce the sodium content in their products while also improving their Nutri-Score. The company says its product can lower sodium scores by three to fi...

Read more 
UK pledges to protect food standards during trade talks but public concern remains high

UK pledges to protect food standards during trade talks but public concern remains high

6 Aug 2020

British public concerns over lowering food safety standards continue to court US trade remain steadfast as the UK and US governments gear up for the next round of scheduled negotiations later this month.

Read more 
Kombucha Brewers International releases code of practice to standardize kombucha

Kombucha Brewers International releases code of practice to standardize kombucha

3 Aug 2020

U.S. kombucha trade association Kombucha Brewers International (KBI) established a code of practice that outlines the quality standards for the production of this fermented beverage. The trade group is also working on releasing a seal for manufacturers...

Read more 
Study: 2% of Brazil’s soybean farms are responsible for 62% of deforestation

Study: 2% of Brazil’s soybean farms are responsible for 62% of deforestation

29 Jul 2020

A new study published in the Journal of Science found that 20% of soy and 17% of beef imports into European from Brazil may be contaminated with illegal deforestation. Although a substantial figure, this deforestation is linked to a small number of far...

Read more 
UK government invests £705 million to fund new border infrastructure and management

UK government invests £705 million to fund new border infrastructure and management

23 Jul 2020

The transition period for the UK out of the EU will end on January 1, 2021, and with it will come the end of a the single market and customs union. To prepare for the exit and maintain trading relations with the EU, the UK government is investing £705 ...

Read more