A class action lawsuit was filed in federal court alleging that Taco Bell misleads its customers.
The lawsuit challenges Taco Bell’s practice of representing to consumers, on menus and in advertisements, that its restaurants serve beef-filled tacos and burritos. The lawsuit seeks to require Taco Bell to properly advertise and label food items, and to engage in a corrective advertising campaign to educate the public about what’s really in its food.
It seems that the filling in Taco Bell tacos and burritos contains just 36% beef, falling too far below the USDA definition to call itself ‘beef.’ According to the lawsuit, the other 64% of the filling is rounded out with water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch, sodium phosphate, and seasonings.
I don’t quite know what to make of the anti-dusting agent. I’ll just take it on faith that its presence spares us from a vexing dust issue. Other than that, maybe the lack of beef is not such a bad thing.
Consider the alternative.
Most fast food beef begins its voyage to your local franchise at a single meat processor, Beef Products, Inc. of South Dakota (McDonalds and Burger King are both customers; Taco Bell is not). Beef Products specializes in creating a beef product out of the trimmings and detritus shipped to them from slaughterhouses around the country. This marginal and untraceable meat is apt to contain E. coli and salmonella (big surprise), so Beef Products puts its beef product through a pathogen killing process to get it clean enough to eat.
Beef Products’ cleaning agent of choice is ammonia, just like you use to clean your bathroom, which makes perfect sense considering the nature of the bacteria you’re after in both cases. Of course when you scrub out your toilet, the cleaning product cautions you to handle it with rubber gloves, avoid contact with your skin, and to seek immediate medical attention if it’s ingested. The USDA allows Beef Products to treat ammonia as a ‘processing agent,’ so it isn’t disclosed as an ingredient in its beef product, or as an ingredient in a fast food hamburger. Anti-dusting agent is starting to sound pretty benign.
100% ammonia-treated beef product or 64% filler. Maybe less beef is a good thing.
Alabama law firm Beasely Allen has released a press release detailing its consumer rights class action. In it you’ll find details about the lawsuit and a a link to the complaint.