Just because it looks like bread and tastes like bread, doesn’t mean it’s legally bread, according to an Irish court ruling.
Ireland’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that some Subway bread used for heated sandwiches does not meet the country’s legal definition of “bread,” ABC News reported.
Why? Because it’s too sugary, according to the court.
Bread is considered a staple in Ireland and therefore not subject to value-added tax (VAT), the Independent reported. Subway franchisee Bookfinders Ltd. in Galway argued in an appeal that it was not liable for VAT on take-out items including heated sandwiches, according to the outlet.
Ireland’s VAT Act of 1972 states that ingredients in bread — including sugar and fat — shouldn’t exceed 2% the weight of flour in the dough, the Independent reported.
The court determined that the sugar content in Subway’s white and wholegrain rolls is about 10% the weight of flour in the dough, the BBC reported.
“Subway’s bread is, of course, bread,” a spokesperson for Subway told the outlet. “We have been baking fresh bread in our stores for more than three decades and our guests return each day for sandwiches made on bread that smells as good as it tastes.”
The appeal followed a claim from Bookfinders Ltd. that it was due a refund because it paid a composite 9.2% VAT from early 2004 to late 2005, The Guardian reported. Bookfinders argued it should have paid no VAT at all.
The appeal was dismissed.
“The argument depends on the acceptance of the prior contention that the Subway heated sandwich contains ‘bread’ as defined, and therefore can be said to be food for the purposes of the second schedule rather than confectionery,” Justice Donal O’Donnell ruled, according to The Guardian.
O’Donnell added that the legal definition of bread arose to make a distinction between it and other baked goods — such as cookies and brownies — that contain more sugar and are not healthy enough to be designated as an essential food, ABC reported.