Lawsuit: Taco Bell Ground Beef Is Really Just "Meat Filling"

To be beef, or not to be beef, that is the question in a lawsuit against Taco Bell for what one Alabama law firm claims is the company’s dubious pronouncements of ground beef. The suit says the fast food purveyors are misleading customers by advertising its ground beef offerings as such.

Terrible puns aside, the case Beasley Allen of Montgomery, Ala. brings up is a pretty interesting one, as reported by WTOL in Toledo. Beasley says that what Taco Bells calls “ground beef” does not meet the USDA’s definition of beef — “flesh of cattle” — and should instead be dubbed “taco meat filling.”

The suit claims that Taco Bell’s meat-like offering is filled with extenders and other non-meat substances listed in the lawsuit like water, “Isolated Oat Product,” wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate as well as beef and seasonings. Yum!

As the USDA definition in the lawsuit says, to be called “ground beef,” the product must “consist of chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.”

Responding in a statement to the lawsuit, Taco Bell Corporation Company spokesman Rob Poetsch issued this statement to news outlets in Alabama:

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.

Hey, at least they’re making the distinction of “Mexican inspired food,” although that might be stretching it, too.

Thanks to Consumerist reader Jay S. for keeping an eye on where the beef is. Or isn’t.

When is beef not beef? Ala. law firm sues Taco Bell [WTOL]