|Real ground beef (top), alleged "beef" in Taco Bell taco (bottom)|
Update: Fat City, like most media outlets, received a written statement from Taco Bell president and chief concept officer Greg Creed defending Taco Bell's products. Read on to the end of the post to be reassured that a beef taco is not really a "beef" taco.
OK, so the headline might be a slight overstatement, but a consumer rights class-action lawsuit filed last Friday in California argues that the Tex-Mex fast-food giant, owned by Louisville-based Yum! Brands, is guilty of false advertising because it claims to use ground beef in its inexpensively priced food.
The suit claims that what Taco Bell calls "seasoned ground beef or seasoned beef" is, substantially, a meat-flavored product "containing substances other than beef."
And what are those substances?
Our sister publication, OC Weekly, weighed in yesterday on the $5 million lawsuit, filed by an Alabama law firm, as "The Taco Bell Crime of the Week." The lawsuit and complaint can be read here.
Anyone who has devoured the salty, over-seasoned beef tacos, gorditas and chalupas served at Taco Bell has probably wondered, at one point or another, what's really in the gooey, blood-colored mess? Thanks to the lawsuit, we now know: less than 35 percent beef along with "water, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent and modified corn starch."
Wanting to know how a local Taco Bell restaurant might respond to this scandalous news, I called the location at 123 East Linwood Boulevard, one of the more popular fast-food venues. I asked the store's supervisor if there was real beef in the beef tacos she served. Stunned by the audacity of the question, she fumbled for an answer before finally telling me: "As far as I know, it's beef. That's what we're told."
Honey, that's what we've all been told. In the meantime, let me have the wheat-oat and soy-lecithin taco. With extra hot sauce.
Statement from Taco Bell's Greg Creed:
"At Taco Bell, we buy our beef from the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket, like Tyson's Foods. We start with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef. Then we simmer it in our proprietary blend of seasonings and spices to give our seasoned beef its signature Taco Bell taste and texture. We are proud of the quality of our beef and identify all the seasoning and spice ingredients on our website. 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."