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Published January 27, 2011, 04:30 PM

Taco Bell fires back after lawsuit questions 'seasoned beef' content

The beef about Taco Bell beef is heating up. The fast-food chain lashed out at a law firm that alleges Taco Bell doesn't use much beef in its ground beef taco filling.

By: McClatchy Newspapers, INFORUM

The beef about Taco Bell beef is heating up. The fast-food chain lashed out at a law firm that alleges Taco Bell doesn't use much beef in its ground beef taco filling.

“The lawsuit is bogus and filled with completely inaccurate facts,” says a statement attributed to Greg Creed, president and chief concept officer of Taco Bell Corp. He said the beef is “just like the quality beef you would buy in a supermarket and prepare in your home.”

Last week an Alabama law firm sued Taco Bell for using the word “beef,” meaning the flesh of cattle, when referring to its taco filling.

A test on Taco Bell's “seasoned beef” showed only 35 percent of the mix was solid, said class-action lawyer W. Daniel “Dee” Miles III of the Montgomery, Ala., law firm Beasley Allen, which instigated the suit. Overall, just 15 percent of the taco filling was identified as protein. Considering that the many other additives likely contributed protein, the actual meat content of the mix was surely even less than 15 percent, Miles surmised.

Not so, says Taco Bell.

“Our seasoned beef recipe contains 88 percent quality USDA-inspected beef and 12 percent seasonings, spices, water and other ingredients that provide taste, texture and moisture. The lawyers got their facts wrong,” Creed said in the statement.

The law firm says it won't try the case in the press.

“The lawsuit does not allege a percentage of beef as a result of a test, only that the products are mislabeled as ‘beef’ or ‘seasoned ground beef,’ despite Taco Bell acknowledging internally that their product is ‘taco meat filling,’ ” said Miles, the lawyer. “Taco Bell has not, and refuses to say what percentage of actual beef is contained in their ‘taco meat filling.’ The government says at a minimum that ‘taco meat filling’ must be at least 40 percent fresh meat. That 88 percent figure Taco Bell released is before they add the 21 ingredients, including binders, fillers and extenders, on their ‘taco meat filling’ box. It's ‘taco meat filling,’ not ‘seasoned ground beef’ or ‘seasoned beef.’ ”

Taco Bell says it uses no “extenders” to add volume to the mixture.

Taco Bell released the contents of its season beef as 88 percent beef, 3 to 5 percent water for moisture, 3 to 5 percent spices and 3 to 5 percent oats, starch, sugar, yeast, citric acid and other ingredients “that contribute to the quality of our product.”

“We take this attack on our quality very seriously and plan to take legal action against them for making false statements about our products. There is no basis in fact or reality for this suit, and we will vigorously defend the quality of our products from frivolous and misleading claims such as this.”


Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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