Subway facing criticism over length of sandwich

Subway co-founder and chairman Fred DeLuca in 2011 poses with a sandwich Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

NEW YORK Subway, the world's largest fast food chain, is facing criticism after an Australian man posted a picture on the company's Facebook (FB) page of one of its famous sandwiches next to a tape measure that seems to shows it's not as long as promised.

The footlong sandwiches are meant to be 12 inches, but the photo indicates the Australian's sandwich is just 11 inches.

More than 100,000 people have "liked" or commented on the photo, which has the caption "Subway pls respond."

Lookalike pictures have popped up elsewhere on Facebook. And the New York Post conducted an investigation that found four out of seven footlong sandwiches were shorter than the length advertised.

Subway has more than 37,000 locations around the world.

By Thursday afternoon, the picture was no longer visible on Subway's Facebook page, which has 19.8 million fans. A spokesman for Subway did not comment on the photo but said the length of its sandwiches can vary slightly.

"Our bread is freshly baked daily in each of the over 38,000 Subway restaurants worldwide," said the sandwich maker in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. "We are committed to providing a consistent product, delivering the same amount of bread to the customer with every order. The length, however, may vary slightly when not baked to our exact specifications. We are reinforcing our policies and procedures in an effort to ensure our offerings are always consistent no matter which Subway restaurant you visit."

The growing power of social media means that negative posts about a company can spread around the world in seconds.

"People look for the gap between what companies say and what they give, and when they find the gap ... they can now raise a flag and say, 'Hey look at this,' I caught you," said Allen Adamson, managing director of branding firm Landor Associates in New York.

Last year, a Burger King employee posted a photo on Twitter someone standing in sneakers on two tubs of uncovered lettuce. Domino's Pizza employees posted a video on YouTube of workers defacing a pizza in 2009.

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