Taco Bell class action suit says its taco meat is not really beef

taco bell advertising

Taco bell is being sued for false advertising over the chain's claims that its taco meat is real ground beef. Image: CC othermore (other)/Flickr

Taco Bell taco meat looks like meat, and some people think it tastes like meat, but technically, it isn’t beef. In Taco Bell advertising, food products are described as filled with ground beef, yet Taco Bell taco meat is only about 35 percent beef. Such a description violates USDA rules, and an Alabama law firm is suing Taco Bell for false advertising.

The Taco Bell class action suit

Claims made in Taco Bell advertising that its taco meat is “ground beef,” or “seasoned ground beef” are hard to digest for a California woman who wants to keep the “Mexican-inspired” food chain honest. After learning that Taco Bell taco meat contained a long list of additives and fillers ranging from oatmeal to silica, she hired a law firm. Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles of Montgomery, Ala., filed a Taco Bell class-action suit in California Jan. 21 on her behalf. The Taco Bell class action suit claims that Taco Bell taco meat is actually “filling” that is 65 percent extenders, preservatives and other chemicals.

Why Taco Bell Taco meat isn’t beef

The Taco Bell false advertising suit is based on the  official definition of ground beef determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA definition of ground beef includes fresh or frozen beef with no more than 30 percent fat and free of extra water, phosphates, binders or extenders. Taco Bell taco meat is laden with such phosphates, binders and extenders as sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, water, “isolated oat product” and silicon dioxide (an anti-caking agent). According to USDA definition, Taco Bell taco meat doesn’t even qualify as “taco filling,” which must be at least 40 percent fresh meat.

What’s in Taco Bell taco meat?

While not denying the facts of the Taco Bell class action suit, Taco Bell denies its advertising is misleading and said millions of customers agree. The woman who initiated the suit said she’s not in it for the money. She simply wants the court to require that Taco Bell quit advertising that it is selling beef. On Taco Bell’s website, ingredient details for the meat in its “Beefy Crunch Burrito” include the following:

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.


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