Taco Bell Sued Over “Taco Meat Filling”
According to the LA Times, Taco Bell is being sued over the beef in its tacos. The class-action suit, filed on behalf of Amanda Obney, claims that the chain restaurant’s “Taco Meat Filling” is only 36% beef… waaaay short of the standard definition of “beef.”
The class-action suit, which does not ask for money, objects to Taco Bell calling its products “seasoned ground beef or seasoned beef, when in fact a substantial amount of the filling contains substances other than beef.”
It says Taco Bell’s ground beef is made of such components as water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate, as well as some beef and seasonings.
Just 35 percent of the taco filling was a solid, and just 15 percent overall was protein, said attorney W. Daniel “Dee” Miles III of the Montgomery, Ala., law firm Beasley Allen, which filed the suit.
“Taco Bell’s definition of ‘seasoned beef’ does not conform to consumers’ reasonable expectation or ordinary meaning of seasoned beef, which is beef and seasonings,” the suit says. Beef is the “flesh of cattle,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Taco Bell “beef” pseudo-Mexican delicacies are really made of a gross mixture called “Taco Meat Filling” as shown on their big container’s labels, like the one pictured here. The list of ingredients is gruesome.
Beef, water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.
It looks bad but passable… until you learn that—according to the Alabama law firm suing Taco Bell—only 36% of that is beef. Thirty-six percent. The other 64% is mostly tasteless fibers, various industrial additives and some flavoring and coloring. Everything is processed into a mass that actually looks like beef, and packed into big containers labeled as “taco meat filling.” These containers get shipped to Taco Bell’s outlets and cooked into something that looks like beef, is called beef and is advertised as beef by the fast food chain.
Ok, adjectives like “gross” and “gruesome” are a bit over-the-top – the list of additives is long, but there’s nothing there that isn’t perfectly edible or unusual (go look at the ingredients in any number of commercial seasoning mixes). It’s the percentage of actual beef that’s the real issue.
Taco Bell is challenging a class action lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in a California court. The YUM Brands-owned fast-food chain vows to take “legal action” against claims that the beef items on its menu only contain 35 percent of the meat and don’t meet government label requirements.
…Taco Bell, however, issued a statement that says otherwise. “At Taco Bell, we buy our beef from the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket, like Tyson Foods. We start with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef . . . Unfortunately, the lawyers in this case elected to sue first and ask questions later, and got their ‘facts’ absolutely wrong. We plan to take legal action for the false statements being made about our food,” Greg Creed, Taco Bell’s president and chief concept officer, said in a statement.
In the full press release issued by Taco Bell, Mr. Creed states that the company’s “seasoned beef” is actually 88% beef and 12% seasonings. That’s considerably more than the percentage claimed in the lawsuit.
So who’s right? That’s for a judge and jury to decide. But I’ll certainly be curious to find out.