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Subway, the largest restaurant chain in the world, which is famous for its choose your own sandwiches, has been told that its bread cannot be classified as actual bread. The decision comes from the Irish Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that Subway bread contains too much sugar to meet the Irish classification of bread. The verdict comes after a dispute between Subway and the Irish government, dating back to the tax Subway paid between 2004-2005.

In 2004 and 2005, Subway paid tax at a rate of 9.2%. They later requested a refund from the Irish government, stating that they should be exempt due to bread being a staple food in Ireland. In Ireland, staple foods are not subject to tax. Staple foods include most of the main foods people need for sustenance but they exclude confectionary foods such as chocolate. Staple foods in Ireland include foods such as bread, meat, cheese and milk. Subway argued that their bread should therefore not be subject to tax, however, the Irish tax authorities disagreed. The battle ended up in the courts.

Now, the final decision on the matter has been made by the Irish Supreme Court after various appeals took the case to Ireland’s highest court. The Supreme Court of Ireland ruled that Subway’s bread cannot legally be considered bread because its sugar content is too high. In Ireland, sugar in bread must not be more than 2% of the flour in the bread. Subway bread contains five times more sugar than the legal limit. As such, the Supreme Court declared that Subway’s bread is confectionary and that it should consequently be taxed as confectionary.

This is not the first time Subway has faced controversy over the ingredients in its bread. In 2014, Subway came under intense scrutiny for using the chemical azodicarbonamide in their bread. The chemical is used in yoga mats and other flooring products as it helps to give them their non-slip and springy feeling. The association led to Subway’s bread being compared to rubber. The chemical was used at Subways in the US where it is allowed in food but not in many other countries where the chemical is banned for use in food. The controversy eventually led to Subway removing the chemical from their bread. Subway hasn’t commented on whether or not they are willing to reduce the sugar content in their bread after this recent ruling.

Difficult words

Classified (adj/v): Being put in a specific category.

Verdict (n): The decision or outcome.

Staple (n): A main or important element of something.

Sustenance (n): Nourishment such as food.

Confectionary (adj): Sweets and chocolate.

Appeal (n): A request for a decision to be reversed.

Scrutiny (n): Critical observation or examination.

Springy (adj): Like elastic, springing back quickly when squeezed or stretched.

Rubber (n): A tough elastic substance used for items such as erasers and tyres.

Activities

For listening practice, listen to the recorded article here:

American English Audio:

Match the Synonym!

1. Classified A. Nourishment
2. Verdict B. Examination
3. StapleC. Reversal request.
4. Sustenance D. Categorised
5. Confectionary E. Bouncy
6. AppealF. Important
7. Scrutiny G. Decision
8. SpringyH. Eraser material.
9. RubberI. Sweets

True or False?

1. Subway is an international sandwich chain. T / F

2. The Irish Supreme Court has decided Subway can no longer sell salads. T / F

3. Subway’s bread has too much salt to be classified as bread. T / F

4. The tax dispute concerns a tax year more than a decade ago. T / F

5. The Irish government does not tax staple foods. T / F

6. Subway’s bread has received the same classification as chocolate. T / F

7. Subway bread has 10 times more sugar than the legal limit. T / F

8. The Supreme Court’s decision is not final. T / F

9. This is not the first time Subway has faced controversy over its bread. T / F

10. Subway still uses azodicarbonamide in its bread in the US. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. comes / Court / Irish / Supreme / decision / the / The / from

2. that Subway / too / Court / The / contains / Supreme / bread / much sugar / ruled

3. and / a / comes / the / Irish government / dispute / The / Subway / between / verdict / after

4. government / refund / the / from / They / later / requested / Irish / a

5. has / controversy / Subway / first / faced / This / is / the / not / time

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

American English Audio: 

ClassificationExemptEventually
SubjectArguedChain
VariousConfectionaryIntense

Subway, the largest restaurant (1)_________ in the world, which is famous for its choose your own sandwiches, has been told that its bread cannot be classified as actual bread. The decision comes from the Irish Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that Subway bread contains too much sugar to meet the Irish (2)________________ of bread. The verdict comes after a dispute between Subway and the Irish government, dating back to the tax Subway paid between 2004-2005.

In 2004 and 2005, Subway paid tax at a rate of 9.2%. They later requested a refund from the Irish government, stating that they should be (3)___________ due to bread being a staple food in Ireland. In Ireland, staple foods are not (4)___________ to tax. Staple foods include most of the main foods people need for sustenance but they exclude confectionary foods such as chocolate. Staple foods in Ireland include foods such as bread, meat, cheese and milk. Subway (5)___________ that their bread should therefore not be subject to tax, however, the Irish tax authorities disagreed. The battle ended up in the courts.

Now, the final decision on the matter has been made by the Irish Supreme Court after (6)____________ appeals took the case to Ireland’s highest court. The Supreme Court of Ireland ruled that Subway’s bread cannot legally be considered bread because its sugar content is too high. In Ireland, sugar in bread must not be more than 2% of the flour in the bread. Subway bread contains five times more sugar than the legal limit. As such, the Supreme Court declared that Subway’s bread is (7)______________ and that it should consequently be taxed as confectionary.

This is not the first time Subway has faced controversy over the ingredients in its bread. In 2014, Subway came under (8)____________ scrutiny for using the chemical azodicarbonamide in their bread. The chemical is used in yoga mats and other flooring products as it helps to give them their non-slip and springy feeling. The association led to Subway’s bread being compared to rubber. The chemical was used at Subways in the US where it is allowed in food but not in many other countries where the chemical is banned for use in food. The controversy (9)______________ led to Subway removing the chemical from their bread. Subway hasn’t commented on whether or not they are willing to reduce the sugar content in their bread after this recent ruling.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Is Subway popular in your country?
5. What do you think about the amount of sugar in Subway bread?
6. Is fast-food popular in your country?
7. Are there any ‘healthy’ fast foods in your country?
8. Are food standards high in your country?
9. Have you eaten at Subway before?
10. Are sandwiches a popular fast-food in your country?
11. Is food taxed in your country?
12. Do you think certain foods should not be taxed?
13. Do you have a favorite type of fast-food?
14. Do you think the Irish Supreme Court was right to classify Subway’s bread in the same way as sweets and chocolate?
15. Are there any tax laws that you don’t agree with in your country?
16. Do you worry about the ingredients used in foods?
17. Do you try to eat healthy?
18. Do you think governments should create laws for food ingredients?
19. Do you consider your country’s traditional food ‘healthy’?
20. Do you think Subway will change their bread recipe?