"Where's the Beef" was the old slogan of Wendy's hamburgers during the 1980s, but it might be making an unwanted comeback at Taco Bell. A lawsuit claims the chain should not be calling its taco meat "beef" because it simply isn't.
The Alabama-based law firm Beasley Allen filed a lawsuit against Taco Bell, saying its testing shows that the taco meat is just 36% ground beef. It states:
Rather than beef, these food items are actually made with a substance known as 'taco meat filling.'
The suit claims the remainder of the Taco Bell's meat filling product consists of "extenders" like water, "Isolated Oat Product," wheat oats, maltodrextrin, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch, sodium phosphate and silicon dioxide.
The USDA has a very generous standard for what can be called beef -- it must contain at least 40% meat. It defines beef simply as "flesh of animals."
In its "Food Facts" section on its Web site, Taco Bell says it does indeed use "meat."
Our taco meat is made from USDA-inspected beef and is subjected to quality check points. It tastes great because it's simmered in 12 authentic seasonings and spices and is never frozen. Moreover, our taco meat is leaner than what you'll find in a restaurant-cooked hamburger because of the unique way that we prepare our taco meat and remove fat.
Taco Bell backed up that with a statement dismissing the lawsuit:
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. We deny our advertising is misleading in any way and we intend to vigorously defend the suit.