"The resulting product falls outside the definition of 'bread' for the purposes of the Act," the ruling stated. Five judges considered the case.
An Irish Subway franchisee, Bookfinders Ltd., prompted this legal interpretation after it sought a tax break for some of its menu items.
The country allows "staple" foods, which include bread, to have value-added taxes set at 0%. The franchisee originally submitted a claim in 2006, asking for a refund for some of the value-added taxes it paid in 2004 and 2005.
Subway dismissed the argument that its bread isn't legit.
"Subway's bread is, of course, bread. We have been baking fresh bread in our restaurants for more than three decades and our guests return each day for sandwiches made on bread that smells as good as it tastes," a Subway spokesperson said in a statement. The company says it's reviewing the ruling.
A six-inch Subway bread roll contains 3 to 5 grams of sugar, except for gluten-free, which has seven, according to data from the company.
This isn't the only time Subway has faced pushback on how it describes its food.
Back in 2013, Subway was sued after a viral social media post showed that one of the chain's advertised footlongs wasn't actually a foot long. Subway started measuring its sandwiches, but a settlement in the case was dismissed as "utterly worthless."
In 2014, the chain removed azodicarbonamide, a chemical found in yoga mats, from its breads after an online petition went viral calling for its removal.
While Subway has to continue paying taxes on its bread in Ireland, tech giant Apple was recently cut a major break in the same country. An order for Apple to pay back nearly $15 billion of government tax breaks was overturned in July.
Perhaps Ireland's ruling in regard to Subway can be categorized with other carb-based debates.
Like whether hot dogs and burritos are sandwiches. (The state of New York says yes; the USDA says no.)
Subway already weighed in on the hot dog-sandwich debate, by the way. In 2010, it sent a cease and desist letter to a Florida hot dog restaurant for using the term "footlong."
The company later decided hot dogs are, in fact, not sandwiches and recanted the letter.
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