Where's the beef? Not at Taco Bell
Would you like that maltodextrin on the side? Taco Bell’s beef has so many additives it doesn’t qualify as meat under U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, according to a new lawsuit.
An Alabama law firm argues in a lawsuit that the popular fast food chain's “seasoned ground beef” or “seasoned beef” is false advertising. The meat mixture sold by Taco Bell contains less than 36 percent real beef, placing it below the minimum threshold the USDA requires to label a product beef, according to legal documents.
The class-action lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court in the Central District of California by the Montgomery law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles.
Attorney Dee Miles said the firm had Taco Bell's meat mixture tested and found it contained less that 36 percent animal protein.
Before you dismiss this as another frivolous lawsuit (like the 2003 case blaming McDonalds for obesity) consider that lawyers representing the plaintiff — Taco Bell customer and California resident Amanda Obney — do not seek monetary damages. Instead, they ask that the court order Taco Bell to be honest in its advertising.
"We are asking that they stop saying that they are selling beef," Miles says.
Instead, they request that Taco Bell advertise "taco meat filling.” The words are far from appealing — we’re reminded of inauthentic “fillers” and gelatinous pie fillings — but another problem lies with that descriptor. The USDA definition for "taco meat filling" stipulates at least 40 percent meat. If the law firm’s test results are accurate, then Taco Bell would have to up their beef levels by four percent.
So if it isn’t beef, what exactly is it? The mixture contains binders and extenders, including stuff like "Isolated Oat Product," soy lecithin, maltodextrin,anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract and sodium phosphate.
The list of yummy additives doesn't stop the eatery from insisting it serves quality fast food.
Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch states, "Taco Bell prides itself on serving high quality Mexican-inspired food with great value. We're happy that the millions of customers we serve every week agree."
Poetsch says the company denies false advertising and will "vigorously defend the suit."