Opinion Brief

Does Taco Bell serve real beef or 'meat filling'?

A lawsuit says the filling in the chain's tacos is largely a mixture of flavored oats, water, and "anti-dusting agents." Is the company misleading consumers?

An Alabama law firm is accusing Taco Bell of false advertising, saying the "ground beef" in its tacos contains just 35 percent meat — the rest is reportedly water, oats, "anti-dusting agents," and other fillers and seasonings. The class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of a California woman, Amanda Obney, who isn't asking for money, but wants Taco Bell to tell customers exactly what is in their tacos, burritos, and chalupas. The fast-food chain said in a statement that it "prides itself on serving high quality Mexican inspired food with great value," and that it will "vigorously" fight any accusation that it misleads customers. Which side has the legitimate beef? (Watch a CNN report about the "meat filling")

Taco Bell needs to fess up: "Talk about alarming news," says Sophie S. Benvenuti at Gather. "Millions of people probably eat at Taco Bell every day," and most of them probably assume, with good reason, that what they are eating is 100 percent beef. "Consumers have the right to know what they're eating," so even if the food looks good and is tasty, it's wrong "for Taco Bell to bend the truth."
"Alabama firm: Lawsuit to Taco Bell — 35 percent beef only — What's in the rest?"

The restaurant could win in court but still lose: Taco Bell's statement is interesting, says legal expert Jonathan Turley in his blog. "It does not appear to deny that it is serving marginal beef products but that the company never really promised anything more than it serves." That might be a sound defense against a charge of false advertising, but it won't send "most Americans 'running to the border.'"
"Would you like salsa with your anti-dusting agent? Taco Bell sued over allegedly serving non-beef in tacos"

Americans know what they are getting at Taco Bell: There's one thing the "big lawyer guy" neglected to mention, says Liv Jones at Greensboring. "Taco Bell is awesome." So what if those yummy beef tacos don't contain filler that fits the U.S. Department of Agriculture's definition of "beef" ("flesh of cattle") — or even the USDA description of beef "taco filling," which is supposed to contain at least 40 percent actual meat. Taco Bell is "as American as you can get," so it's fitting "that it's artificial and full of fillers."
"Taco Bell beef only 36 percent meat. So?"

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