Ireland’s Supreme Court has ruled that bread sold by Subway isn’t actually bread.

At least not legally.

That’s because the bread contains too much sugar, the court said.

The ruling came during a tax dispute with an Irish Subway franchisee, which argued that some of its takeaway products – including teas, coffees and heated sandwiches – were not liable for value-added tax.

The country’s Value-Added Tax Act of 1972 says tax-exempt bread can’t have sugar, fat and bread improver exceed 2% of the weight of flour.

In Subway’s recipe, sugar makes up 10% of the weight of the flour.


“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,” the judgment read.

According to the judgment, the bread sold by Subway contains too much sugar to be categorised as a “staple food” (which isn’t taxed).

The law makes a distinction between “bread as a staple food” and other baked goods “which are, or approach, confectionery or fancy baked goods,” the judgment said.

In other words, the court found that Subway’s bread is perhaps legally closer to cake than bread.


Subway has dismissed the argument of the five judges.

“Subway’s bread is, of course, bread,” a Subway spokesperson said in a statement.

“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.”

The company says it’s reviewing the ruling.

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