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Taco Bell disputes allegation that its beef contains meatless items

Taco Bell's Mexican menu items advertised with beef also contain 'isolated oat product,' and the fast-food company calls its beef 'taco meat filling' inside the company, the suit says.

January 25, 2011|Reuters

Taco Bell Corp is pushing back against a lawsuit that alleges the fast-food chain's "seasoned ground beef" is not all it's made out to be.

Taco Bell, a Yum Brands Inc. subsidiary based in Irvine, said Tuesday that it plans to take legal action against the "false statements" being made about its food. The chain operates, manages or franchises more than 5,600 locations in the United States.

Taco Bell's tacos, burritos and other Mexican menu items advertised with beef actually contain a filling of mostly non-meat substances including "isolated oat product," according to the lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Santa Ana.

"The 'chicken' and 'carne asada steak' served by Taco Bell is, in fact, chicken or carne asada steak," the lawsuit says. "The 'seasoned beef,' however, is not beef."

Taco Bell simmers 100% U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected beef in a "proprietary blend of seasonings and spices" to give it a signature taste and texture, Taco Bell President Greg Creed said in a statement. All seasoning ingredients are listed on the website, he said.

"Unfortunately, the lawyers in this case elected to sue first and ask questions later — and got their 'facts' absolutely wrong," Creed said.

Dee Miles, who represents the plaintiff, said Taco Bell calls its product "taco meat filling" inside the company but "beef" to customers.

"We're going to move forward, and I believe we're going to be successful," Miles said.

The proposed class-action lawsuit asks Taco Bell to stop misrepresenting its products and engage in a corrective advertising campaign. It also seeks attorneys' fees and costs.

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