What Taco Bell calls "taco meat filling" or "seasoned beef" is less than 35 percent beef, according to the lawsuit filed by Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, a Montgomery, Ala., law firm. The rest of the mixture is comprised of binders, extenders and other ingredients, including "water, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent and modified corn starch," according to a report from the Associated Press.
"Our government, through the USDA and FDA, provides definitions, standards and labeling guidelines for 'ground beef.' What Taco Bell is representing on their restaurant menu as 'ground beef' does not meet any of those definitions, standards and labeling guidelines," said attorney Dee Miles in a prepared statement.
As the New York Daily News reports, "According to the United States Department of Agriculture's website, 'ground beef' or 'chopped beef' consists of chopped fresh or frozen beef with or without seasoning, should not contain more than 30% fat and should not contain water, phosphates, binders or extenders."
The lawsuit isn't seeking monetary damages. It wants Taco Bell to comply with food labeling and truth-in-advertising laws.
A Taco Bell spokesperson defended the company, telling the AP, "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."
Taco Bell has sent us the following statement: “At Taco Bell, we buy our beef from the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket, like Tyson 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.”
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