A class action lawsuit was recently filed against Taco Bell; the fast food chain is accused of falsely advertising that its beef taco is made of beef.
The Alabama law firm that filed the suit says only 35 % of the “seasoned ground beef” actually contains meat. The rest is made up of binders, fillers and colouring (a mixture of isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch, sodium phosphate and other things).
The lawsuit argues that what Taco Bell advertises as seasoned beef does not conform to the ordinary meaning of seasoned beef or meet consumers’ reasonable expectations. It also fails to meet the minimum standards required by the US Department of Agriculture to be labelled and advertised as beef.
Taco Bell has aggressively challenged the allegations. In response to the lawsuit, the company launched a print ad campaign in major US publications. Under the headline “Thank you for suing us. Here’s the truth about our seasoned beef” it argues that the beef consists of 88% meat and the rest is water, spices and a mixture of oats and other ingredients that contribute to the quality of its product.
Taco Bell also responded with a YouTube video of president Greg Creed defending the ingredients. He says that the company adds stuff to the meat because without it, it just tastes like unflavoured ground beef.
It is clear that Taco Bell is fighting back and working hard on damage control and public perception. The worrying part is that they might be succeeding in normalizing food additives. Regardless of the outcome of the false advertising lawsuit, the real question is whether the “35 million amazing and loyal customers each week” that Creed thanks on the YouTube video will be swayed by the lawsuit and question what they have chosen to eat. Or will they shrug it off and bite into another processed burrito?