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A Taco Bell taco meat filling lawsuit?

I read this on Gawker.com this morning where they mentioned that Taco Bell is being sued for calling it's taco meat beef.


i haven't eaten at Taco Bell in years, not sure i'm heading that way anytime soon.

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  1. Can't say I understand that one.... the first ingredient IS beef in that mixture.

    2 Replies
    1. re: im_nomad

      Even if "beef" is the first ingredient, the govt says "beef" has to be at least 40% of the filling in order to call it "beef". Apparently in this case it isn't.

      "Beef-like flavored food substance product" would be more accurate. But what do you want for 89 cents?

      1. re: coney with everything

        Actually the article says you can only call it beef if it comes from cattle and does not include fillers or extenders. That's why the first ingredient is identified as "beef". The article goes on to say that "taco meat filling" requires a minimum of 40% beef content and this falls short by 4%.

    2. <The list of ingredients is gruesome>

      Gruesome? Talk about hyperbole. SInce when is tomato, corn starch, chili, onion, soybean oil, yeast, beef broth, etc., gruesome? Yes, I left out a few of the polysyllabic additives. They're nothing you wouldn't find on the ingredient lists of many products on the grocery store shelves and probably in most packets of taco seasonings sold to consumers.

      And I notice that when the website reprinted the ingredient list, they somehow managed to leave out the first ingredient: Beef.

      I won't argue about compliance with Federal or state labelling regulations. I'm no attorney and can't comment on legal standards.

      Don't like Taco Bell or other fast foods? Then don't eat there. Most food service providers are not in the business of intentionally poisoning their customers. It isn't good for business.

      As far as this website goes - Agenda much?

      2 Replies
      1. re: rockycat

        I'm right there with you. I can't add anything. Other than this.

        So what do these people do when they're not complaining about something??


        1. re: Davwud

          It's not a matter of getting what you deserve if you eat fast food, it's how they portray their food. If they say it's "seasoned ground beef" then there's an expectation in the customer that they're getting ground beef, not "meat filling." I'd feel the same way if I went to any restaurant, fast food or not, and the description was misleading.

      2. I haven't been to Taco Bell in ages, so I had to check their online menu to see how they name their products. It looks like they label most things as "beefy," which seems pretty honest to me. The menu descriptions do include "seasoned ground beef" and it's possible the taco meat does not include enough beef to use that term (though I don't know how much I trust the 36% claim, how did the lawyers figure that out?). At worst, Taco Bell will have to change the menu description to beefy instead of beef. It all seems like a waste of time and court resources to me...

        1. Hmmm.maybe thats why I cannot make my taco meat at home taste like TB's (which I sadly do like ?). It has too much beef in it.

          1. Far be it from me to advocate eating at what I consider to be the lowest quality fast food restaurants available. However, I am an advocate of options, and I think that those who proselytize and rail against the Taco Bells and KFCs, trying to simultaneously shame them for their food production practices as well as shame their customers for ignorance, laziness, etc., need to back off. Horror stories intended to force a change in people's eating habits will only backfire. What is needed is public education that is accurate and consistent- not political and terrifying. These sensational 'reports' about fast food processes are often greatly exaggerated, if not fabricated. For example, taking a look at the label provided in the link above clearly shows that the main ingredient in Taco Bell's taco filling is, indeed, beef. And no ingredient that follows it is particularly alarming to me- on the contrary, I was actually comforted to find that the filler used by Taco Bell appears to be oats. Granted, they're not using a grass-fed, hormone-free beef and organic steel-cut oat blend. They're using the cheapest and most highly-processed versions of each. But still, it could be a lot worse. What exactly is Gizmodo trying to accomplish by implying that there is some kind of mysterious, possibly unnatural ingredient in the place of beef? All they really need to say is that Taco Bell's beef taco meat consists of 36% beef, and so are made with what must legally be referred to as "Taco Meat Filling". Let the public decide whether that is an acceptable ratio, given the identity of the "backup" ingredients.
            On the other hand, one aspect of fast food procedures that I would happily blast them for is their treatment of animals and the mass culture of industrial, factory breeding methods they have become such a big part of. That's what's truly scary, IMO.

            9 Replies
            1. re: vvvindaloo

              I can't agree that Taco Bell is the the lowest kinds of fast food available. Condemned to eat at fast food restaurants on a grim stretch of I-35 from time to time, Taco Bell is far from the bottom. There are recognizable food items in their food, tomatoes (sort of), lettuce, beans, cheese (again, of a sort).

              1. re: ECB

                ECB, I suspect that I don't even know that much about fast food in comparison with the majority of Americans. I don't mean to say that the majority of Americans necessarily eat a lot of it, but that they simply have had more access to it. Having spent much of my life abroad, coming from a family where everyone cooks nearly every day, and also being from New York, where the fast food culture is actually rather limited (dominated by McDonald's and YUM brands), I see Taco Bell as pretty low on the fast food chain (though our local brand, White Castle, is probably just as bad or worse). Unfortunately, some of the fast food chains that I do like, such as In-n-Out, Rubio's, and Sonic, don't have locations near here. We do have some very good local "upscale" chains, though, such as Shake Shack, which I wouldn't trade for any of them.
                I am very curious to know which fast food establishments you consider to be the best and which are the worst, in terms of quality. I must confess that I have no idea where I-35 is.

                1. re: vvvindaloo

                  I-35 runs through the middle of our country... from the Mexico border with Texas through Minnesota. Just a little FYI...

                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                    Taco Bell is part of the YUM (oxymoron?) brands family according to a story in today's LA Times on this issue.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      Yes- Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut are the main YUM brands, I believe. I am not sure if there are any others. In the NY area, we see these three- plus McDonald's and Subway- with the most frequency. We also have a few scattered Wendy's, Sbarro, and Domino's, but I believe that most of the country has many more brands than the New York area, where independent restaurants are the "norm" and only the largest national chains seem to find a market (Olive Garden, Applebee's), and only in the most urban areas. I don't want to sound like a food snob, but I have heard many horror stories from friends and family who have moved west (though not as far west as California), and have been dismayed by the lack of access to good, independent restaurants and the clear majority held by fast food or chain establishments. This seems to be particularly true when it comes to pizza, for some reason. I am glad that this is not the case here in NY, but, as I mentioned in a post above, I do long for certain chains that just aren't available here. Rubio's fried fish tacos.... mmm.

                      1. re: vvvindaloo

                        Indie pizza is dying everywhere.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          Except in NY, I guess, where artisanal, "authentic" pizza is thriving: brick ovens vs. wood ovens, Roman vs. Neapolitan styles (with professional Italian pizzaoli to match), thin crust vs. soft crust, basil vs. oregano, all local ingredients vs. all D.O.P. ingredients, slices vs. no slices, old NY-style charcoal ovens vs. mid-century gas ovens... you get the picture. Pizza is a constant topic of conversation (ok, debate) in these parts, where it is just as easy to enjoy a delicious meal of pizza for $10 per person as it is for $30 per person. I think I've heard of as many new trendy pizza restaurants opening in the past 6 months (or 1 year or 5 years) as all types of Asian and European put together in the same period of time. The only type of food establishment that is keeping pace with upscale pizza restaurants around here is the gourmet burger joint. Every week there seems to be a new and fashionable burger place- burgers paired with wine, wagyu burgers glazed with bourbon, grass-fed organic burgers with shaved truffles on artisanal brioche buns... Must be a sign of the times- we're looking to go out and spend $30 on an upscale pizza or cheeseburger with a local microbrew, but not $100 on osso buco with Amarone. Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of mediocre slice joints in ever part of this city. But I would argue that the comparative lack of chain pizza in NY is due to our collective passion for it, as well as a long history of Italian immigration and tomato/cheese imports. If anything, NY pizza options are becoming more plentiful and delicious than ever before- even if our traditional NY "slice joint" culture is slowly dying.

                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                            It's becoming a "Last bastion" kinda thing. I've noticed up and down the eastern part of the US that where ever you go, there's chain pizza and not a lot of others.

                            There are still some good chains pizzas but no great chain pizzas.


              2. I always suspected that Taco Bell was vegetarian friendly.

                I've been vindicated!

                1. i always thought it obvious that that it was full of fillers. obviously, taco bell is not going to be using a high-quality, high-percentage of beef for their items - look at the low prices. that being said, i still think it tastes good... i've always considered taco bell a guilty pleasure!

                  1. As long as Taco Bell doesn't say, "Think smaller, with more legs," I'm ok with their recipe.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Taco Bell claims the lawsuit is not accurate. And will take legal action over this lawsuit... (not sure how true this statement is, heard over radio)

                      Lets face it, I will eat Taco Bell in a pinch and did not expect this not to be the case from day one

                      1. Wait a second.....are you trying to tell me that a fast food establisment is using an inferior product? That 89 cent taco isnt made with the finest cuts of beef? Would Taco Bell be as popular if they used 100% real, grass fed, no hormone added, organic beef, paid its staff a "living wage," made evertyhign fresh in house, and charged $3.99 for that same $.89 taco?

                        Food, Inc - Watch it sometime

                        you get what you pay for, and I hope for this nations sake this lawsuit gets thrown out of court.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: joe777cool

                          I know you're being sarcastic, but think it's worth noting - that concept already exists (more or less), with Chipotle. Based on the crowds of college students I saw filing through last weekend, they're doing OK. Of course, the closest Taco Bell is a 20 minute drive from here, and Chipotle is walking distance from campus.

                          I agree, you get what you pay for. Most people have been to nicer restaurants compared to the Bell, and should have some concept of what you get for your money in a restaurant.

                          1. re: mpjmph

                            Joecool, I do agree with you in concept.
                            As for Chipotle, I really enjoy thier food. Makes me never want to ever go back to taco bell..
                            It comes down to there is a large group of people that enjoy (for lack of education or desire) low quality processed food. Price is not the only factor..

                            1. re: mpjmph

                              I have been to chipotle, not a huge fan. The cilantro/lime rice is terrible IMO (probably because I dispise cilantro)

                              I also really dont like Taco Bell either, its just the frivilous lawsuits that irk me.

                              Lets look at the numbers, Taco Bell is part of Yum brands who's yearly revenue is about 11 billion in 37,000 stores (including pizza hut and kfc - who really sell the same crappy products)

                              Chipotle revenue is about 1.6 billion in under 1000 stores

                              we buy cheap crap, its a fact!

                              1. re: joe777cool

                                crazy crazy fact.. Alot of people dont like chipotle , that rice is suppose to be horrible for you too. TONS OF sodium, (not a fact , just over heard)

                                1. re: Augie6

                                  Maybe you shouldn't believe everything you hear. A 3-ounce portion of Chipotle rice contains 150mg of sodium. About 6% of your recommended daily intake.


                                  Chipotle uses quality ingredients and they are "fresher" than most chains. You can still combine the ingredients into a mega-caloric unhealthy meal, but you can also skip the tortillas, sour cream and cheese and go with a salad option for a healthier alternative.

                                  1. re: ferret

                                    i never said i believed, just said i over heard it .. But after looking at that link.. my normal meal has ATON of sodium into.. so maybe I bet i just over heard wrong

                                    BTW , agree with you totally about the quality and will still eat my sodium loaded meal

                                    1. re: Augie6

                                      The basic rule is if you don't want sodium, don't eat out. Whether it's fine dining or fast food there will always be more salt than sensitive or sodium-averse diners would prefer.

                                      1. re: ferret

                                        Some restos are way worse than others. For examply, we simply stopped eating at Romano's Macaroni Grill primarily because of how salty the food is. Haven't eaten there in years. I would imagine that someone with high blood pressure really has to watch this (fortunately my BP is great, it's the cholesterol I have to watch).

                          2. I guess I am not too bad off, when I go there I get chicken.

                              1. I'm thinking now that this was an inside job the whole time. The lawsuit was so ridiculous, the response from TB has been just about letter perfect. The free publicicity has been unmeasurable

                                I'm calling setup.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: L2k

                                  You wouldn't be unreasonable for thinking so, L2k, but it probably isn't a setup. I was talking about this suit with a family member who's an attorney and, while he agreed that the whole thing is ridiculous, he also told me about a few attorneys he had met years ago who think up idiotic suits like this and deliberately go around trying to find a person willing to be the plaintiff. The hope is that the big company will settle, rather than go through the expense and bother of defending the suit. The award will be relatively small, the plaintiff will get next to nothing, and the lawyers walk away with most of whatever money is awarded.

                                  This happens, this is for real, and, IMHO, it's a legal scam.

                                  1. re: rockycat

                                    It's a law firm in Alabama that can't milk any more money from BP.

                                    1. re: rockycat

                                      Perhaps it does (which would explain this: http://shortcutgeek.com/3953/diddy-se...), but if the truth is as obviously in TB's favor (as it seems so far), then I doubt even the biggest vampire lawyer wouldn't waste time on this

                                    2. re: L2k

                                      Wholeheartedly agree. This is typical of today's marketing. All publicity is good publicity - especially if you've got a good plan and play offensive.

                                      I am surprised at how many hounds have come down on the side of TB though. And there's not much discussion about the role of the FDA in this drama. "Meat filling", as I understand it, only has to be 40% beef while "ground beef" has to be 100%. That defies any logic to me.

                                      As for me, I'm neither a fan of mega fast food corporations or greedy attorneys - I hope they both crumble. Dare to dream, right?

                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                        The 40% standard only applies to processors, not restaurants. So the regulation TB is being accused of violating doesn't even apply to them. I still have no idea what the basis of this lawsuit is, other than to generate money for the prosecuting attorneys. Oh yeah, they're really looking out for my welfare.

                                        I'm not sure how many posters are defending TB (and what's the problem if they are?) as opposed to deriding the blantant misuse of the legal system for personal gain.

                                        1. re: rockycat

                                          Did I say I have a problem? I just said I was surprised. I do have a problem, however, with greedy attorneys and greedy and misleading corporations. Don't even get me started on the FDA...

                                          1. re: lynnlato

                                            they arent suing for a dime they just want the false advertising to stop

                                    3. i opened the NY Times the other day and found this full-page ad:

                                      and here's a link to the official statement on the Taco Bell website:

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. After reading the easy-to-find scan of the logo from the actual container, the various articles about the lawsuit, and TB's rebuttal, the numbers don't jibe, even when you try looking at it from different angles.

                                        I have a hunch that everybody's wrong, and it would take some anonymous random samples to figure out what the percentage actually is.

                                        While I find it very interesting, I don't really care, because I've found TB to be just this side of inedible for a long time now. I would eat a hot dog before I'd cruise through Taco Bell...and those who know me know how dire a statement that really is.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          I have a hunch that everybody's wrong, and it would take some anonymous random samples to figure out what the percentage actually is.
                                          i suspect you're right. it certainly has no impact on my personal consumption because i've only eaten TB once in my life - in 1995 - and it wasn't one of their "beef" items anyway...but really, is it too much to ask of these food companies that they provide *accurate* information to people about what it is exactly that they're putting into their bodies?

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            "is it too much to ask of these food companies that they provide *accurate* information to people about what it is exactly that they're putting into their bodies?"

                                            My sentiments exactly, ghg.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              I should probably correct that to "I have a hunch that everybody's lying"...which would be considerably closer to what my cynical little self really thinks...

                                            2. re: sunshine842

                                              It's the other way. Technically speaking, everyone is right (though there's still a whole lotta stupid going on).

                                              It's the water that's causing the discrepancy. Not the water added, but the water in the meat. Cells are mostly water and because of all the cooking (and separating in the lab, likely by a centrifuge) that 100% beef that Taco Bell starts with decreases in volume/mass as it loses the water.

                                              Take any steak. You can call it 100% beef and you'd be correct. If you took that steak and made it into jerky, it's still 100% beef, but without all the water that was in the meat. That's pretty much what the case boils down to - The water in the meat.

                                              1. re: ediblover

                                                Not buying that for a split second, although I'm not doubting its veracity.

                                                Both sides are massaging the data to support their own claims. That's not water, that's lying.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  "Not buying that for a split second, although I'm not doubting its veracity."

                                                  Cognitive Dissonance. It's not just for breakfast anymore... ;-D>

                                                  1. re: Servorg


                                                    I believe the part about the water evaporating being part of the discrepancy.

                                                    what I don't believe is that either side is telling the truth.

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      I think this lawsuit is an inside job. they will make bigger profits selling steak.

                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                Not surprising.

                                                I really hope info is leaked about the reasoning.