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That’s not beef in your Taco Bell taco, lawsuit maintains

Class-action suit demonstrates that consumers care what is in their food and are increasingly apt to sue food companies over ingredients and false advertising claims.

If you’re still eating at Taco Bell, you’ll want to check out the allegations of a Southern California woman, who says the fast-food giant’s seasoned ground beef technically isn’t beef at all. The woman is waging a class-action suit against Taco Bell for false advertising.

According to the lawsuit, a test of Taco Bell’s taco filling found it was made up of 35 percent solids, of which just 15 percent were protein. In all, the “ground beef” was found to contain some beef and seasonings—as well as lots of fillers, including water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate.

"Taco Bell's definition of 'seasoned beef' does not conform to consumers' reasonable expectation or ordinary meaning of seasoned beef, which is beef and seasonings," the suit says.

Gone are the days of secret ingredients in food

In response to the lawsuit and the storm of negative press coverage it generated, Taco Bell is launching a nationwide advertising campaign to set the record straight on the ingredients used in and makeup of its seasoned ground beef. Here's what Taco Bell says is its ground beef recipe:

"We start with USDA-inspected quality beef (88 percent). Then add water to keep it juicy and moist (3%).  Mix in Mexican spices and flavors, including salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, sugar, garlic powder, and cocoa powder (4 percent).  Combine a little oats, caramelized sugar, yeast, citric acid, and other ingredients that contribute to the flavor, moisture, consistency, and quality of our seasoned beef (5 percent)."

Taco Bell says it plans to “vigorously defend the suit.”

Regardless of the outcome in this particular case, the lawsuit demonstrates that consumers care what is in their food. They also seem increasingly apt to sue food companies over ingredients and false advertising claims. This combination makes transparency especially important in the world of food, as Taco Bell has painfully learned. As a result of this lawsuit, the company has had to unveil to the public ingredients in its once "secret" ground beef recipe.

Read the full story about the lawsuit and see a video of consumer reactions. Watch Taco Bell President Greg Creed's video defending the ingredients in his company's seasoned ground beef.

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