Consumers ask Taco Bell, “Where’s the beef?”

By Michelle Williams

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“Where’s the beef?” was once a slogan of the fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s, in regards to the quality of meat of their competitors’ products. Now, some consumers are asking just that of Taco Bell.

An Alabama law firm has filed a class-action law suit against the fast-food company, that claims the “seasoned beef” served in its products does not contain enough beef to be considered beef, seasoned or otherwise.

According to the lawsuit, only 35 percent of the beef filling served in tacos was actual beef, with the remaining 65 percent consisting of ingredients including: water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate and seasoning.

For a product to be considered ground beef by the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, it must be at least 70 percent beef, not include added water, phosphates or binders, and no more than 30 percent fat.

To be considered taco beef filling, the product must contain at least 40 percent fresh meat, and the label must display that the product is not ground beef, but “taco filling with meat,” according to the Department of Agriculture.

“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 class-action suit states.

In an interview with the L.A. Times, W. Daniel “Dee” Miles III, of law firm Beasley Allen who filed the lawsuit said, “You can’t call it beef by definition.” He added, “It’s junk. I wouldn’t eat it.”

In response to the lawsuit, Taco Bell Corp. released a statement on their website. Greg Creed, the president and chief concept officer, began the statement with, “The lawsuit is bogus and filled with completely inaccurate facts.” Creed goes on to say, “Our seasoned beef recipe contains 88 percent quality USDA-inspected beef and 12 percent seasonings, spices, water and other ingredients that provide taste, texture and moisture.”

Creed also said in the statement that the company plans to take action against the law firm that filed the suit. “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.”

Michelle Williams can be reached at [email protected]