Some time ago, I wrote an article investigating the claim that Taco Bell’s beef was of lower quality than the food you feed to your pets. I found that their beef was much higher quality than cat food, but contained an almost shocking amount of filler ingredients. I got many e-mails and comments disputing what the filler actually was, ranging from soy to even sand, but I never really completely looked into what the filler actually was.
This past week, Alabama based law firm Beasley Allen filed a class action lawsuit targeting Taco Bell, claiming the company uses false advertising on its menu and its advertisements. The complaint, which was filed on behalf of the general public, alleges that what Taco Bell calls “beef” doesn’t meet the minimum requirements set by the USDA to be called “beef”, “seasoned ground beef”, or anything of the kind. The lawsuit also states that Taco Bell should refer to its product as “taco meat filling” because it contains mostly “extenders” and other non-meat substances.
The definition as read in the lawsuit states “ground beef” “shall consist of chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.”
I got my hands on the USDA policy book, which required food labeled as “taco filling” to contain “at least 40 percent fresh meat” and the label must show the true product name. Next time you’re eating your Lunchables with “taco filling”, remember to think about how that filling is actually only 40% beef. Blegh.
The actual lawsuit, which can be read here if you’re into that kind of thing, lists water, isolated oat product, soy lechithin, malodextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate as well as beef and seasonings. I actually went through in my original article and researched most of these.
Waiting for the real nasty part? Beasley Allen law firm claims they had Taco Bell’s beef tested and what they currently are marketing as beef contains less than 35% meat.
When asked for a response, Taco Bell issued this non-denial denial:
“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 said. He said the company would “vigorously defend the suit.”
So basically what the lawsuit claims is that Taco Bell is serving beef that while better than your pet’s food, is combined with 65% filler, fat, and other products, and 35% actual meat. I knew there had to be some sort of filler, but the thought of eating beef that’s really only 35% beef is a little nasty to me. At least Tofurkey producers warn you that their product is completely disgusting.
I’ll keep you updated on this as news is passed along.