Print 39 comment(s) - last by Googer.. on Feb 10 at 4:22 AM

Complaint alleges false advertising on Taco Bell menus and in ads

For anyone who's a fan of Taco Bell's Cheesy Gordita Crunch, or the stalwart beef taco, the following news may not sit well: The "taco meat filling" -- as it is labeled -- that the fast-food vendor uses is made up of only 36-percent beef. 

Multiple news outlets, including WTOL-TV, are reporting that a class-action lawsuit has been filed in Montgomery, Alabama by the law firm Beasley Allen alleging that Taco Bell uses false advertising on its menu and in its ads. The complaint says that Taco Bell should label its meat as "taco meat filling" because it does not meat the minimum requirements set by the USDA to be called "beef" or "seasoned ground beef".

What makes up the other 64 percent? A combination of the following:

Water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.

As Gizmodo points out, ground beef is defined by the USDA as: "Chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders."

The USDA policy book says that food labeled as "taco filling" must contain "at least 40 percent fresh meat". At 36 percent, Taco Bell's "taco meat filling" can't even be labeled as such, let alone "ground beef". If it can't even label its "meat" as "taco filling," what option does that leave? Imagine ordering a "Meat-like 5-layer Burrito".

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By Flunk on 1/25/2011 9:55:56 AM , Rating: 1
If you've ever eaten one of those Taco Bell products it's quite obvious that the filling is (mostly) not meat. I don't know how this is going to surprise anyone. This is exactly the reason I never eat at Taco Bell.

RE: Obvious
By AssBall on 1/25/2011 10:19:36 AM , Rating: 3
Whats wrong with a little bit of meat flavored oatmeal? And what the hell is an "oat product" anyway? They use the grass too or something?

RE: Obvious
By Hieyeck on 1/25/2011 11:55:15 AM , Rating: 5
Taco Bell. Now 100% Vegetarian.

RE: Obvious
By monkeyman1140 on 1/27/11, Rating: 0
RE: Obvious
By Wolfpup on 2/4/2011 10:41:43 AM , Rating: 2
There's no MSG in their beef or taco sauce.

RE: Obvious
By mindless1 on 2/8/2011 3:23:42 PM , Rating: 2
False, no MSG. As for hot sauce, lots of commercially sold hot sauces have corn syrup in them. Actually I grown my own hot peppers and make hot sauce, some of which I do put a sweetener in whether it be corn syrup, honey, or whatever if there are not enough *sweet* fruits or vegetables to give the sauce a good balance.

Basically you make a sauce and taste it. Does it need more salt, sugar, vinegar, etc?? Then add some.

RE: Obvious
By geddarkstorm on 1/25/2011 2:00:09 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know, but Taco Bell's the only food I've ever eaten that almost always makes me excruciatingly ill afterwords for a few hours. They are the poster child of mystery meat.

RE: Obvious
By FITCamaro on 1/25/2011 2:59:10 PM , Rating: 2
Psst. The "meat" comes into the restaurant in powdered form.

Anyone ever see that show Better off Ted? Was awesome. There was an episode where the company was trying to make artificial meat.

"What's it taste like?"


RE: Obvious
By Leebean01 on 1/25/2011 3:52:32 PM , Rating: 2
Having worked at Taco Bell a few years ago, I can tell you the "meat" does not come to the restaurant in powder form. It comes in little bags that are heated in boiling water. What is in that bag, or how it got there, I can't say however...

RE: Obvious
By Parhel on 1/25/2011 5:44:42 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know, but Taco Bell's the only food I've ever eaten that almost always makes me excruciatingly ill afterwords for a few hours. They are the poster child of mystery meat.

You must not have White Castle in your neck of the woods. Or Denny's for that matter.

RE: Obvious
By monkeyman1140 on 1/27/2011 5:43:13 PM , Rating: 2
I occasionally eat the frozen packaged white castle burgers. I know they're made of cat food, but they're so fiendishly good.

Devil sandwich, how dare you taunt me.

RE: Obvious
By Alexvrb on 1/28/2011 7:36:04 PM , Rating: 2
Damn you ice cream, come to my mouth... how dare you disobey me!

RE: Obvious
By Googer on 2/10/2011 4:22:37 AM , Rating: 2
A little oats and tomato (ketchup) makes it sound like they are using leftover ground meatloaf.

RE: Obvious
By johnsonx on 1/25/2011 1:17:42 PM , Rating: 2
this is why, when I want that sort of gringo-ized mexican-ish fast-food, I'll usually opt for Del Taco instead. I don't promise their ground beef is 100% beef, but it's sure a lot more meaty than Taco Bell's meat-inspired-substance.

that's not to say Taco Bell's meat-inspired-substance isn't perfectly good at being what it is, but if the USDA rules say ground beef has to be all beef, then Taco Bell shouldn't be able to get away with selling some mix of 36% beef with oat fillers making up the rest and calling it "ground beef".

RE: Obvious
By FITCamaro on 1/25/2011 2:55:44 PM , Rating: 2
I'm just glad the lady isn't suing for money. Only to get them to change their marketing.

Can see it now.

"Shredded cheese, pounds of lettuce, meat flavored product. Get your spicy gordita today!"

RE: Obvious
By Lerianis on 1/26/2011 11:53:47 AM , Rating: 2
I'll be honest.... it wasn't obvious to me, I actually thought that the stuff I was eating was meat totally. It looked like meat, tasted like meat, etc. etc. etc.

RE: Obvious
By Wolfpup on 2/4/2011 10:45:06 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I mean I guess I've probably even looked it up before, but it seems like ground beef to me.

I don't know...I wish I had a Taco Johns or something closer since I like them WAY better, but I don't have an intrinsic issue with Taco Bell.

Just feeding the sharks
By tmouse on 1/25/2011 12:58:37 PM , Rating: 2
This just another bunch of crap filed by lawyers to line their pockets. It’s not going to "help" ANYONE. Oh my; Taco Bell is not 100% beef who would have thought? Bottom line is in many places you are required to list percent fats, carbohydrates ect. so you can make an informed nutritional decision if you care to and if you do not well a bit of crap is good for the soul. Hey if you like it why care what it’s called. It’s an END PRODUCT it’s not like you use tacos as an ingredient or anything. Whether its 100% or 10% beef if you like the taste who gives a crap (other than the one you could get if you eat too much of this stuff). I can see how some of these consumer laws help people from being misled but come on a person too stupid to realize that fast food taco meat is barely meat is probably too stupid to eat without choking. Sad part is our courts are loaded with this kind of crap which we all pay for. I wonder how hard these “noble” defenders of our rights would be if all fees were to be paid in product?

RE: Just feeding the sharks
By tmouse on 1/25/2011 1:16:33 PM , Rating: 3
On a side note (I’m not sure if it applies here) but taco fillings generally allow for fat in the formula and the formula is based on precooked product. Some of the oil from the fat could be lost in preparation of the final product. It’s why all burgers called “x-pounders” are quietly referenced as being precooked weight. If Taco Bell is not labeling correctly they should check to see if they deliberately send the USDA false samples as they are required to send samples for inspection.

RE: Just feeding the sharks
By FITCamaro on 1/25/11, Rating: 0
RE: Just feeding the sharks
By tmouse on 1/26/2011 7:38:55 AM , Rating: 5
It’s a class action, the lawyers drive the show the "person" is merely the figure head to start the suit which they then petition the court to recognize a class. They will definitely line their pocket, that’s why they accept class actions suites. They will bill things like $400 per letter ect. If this is being filed in federal court the taxpayers also foot some of the bill and ALL that will happen is the change of one or two words like contains to made with or something similar and in the end it really is all for nothing as far as the general public goes.

RE: Just feeding the sharks
By Parhel on 1/25/2011 5:52:57 PM , Rating: 3
Whenever I go to the Taco Bell in my neighborhood, they always ask me "Beef, Chicken or Steak" when I order. I'll still eat there, but if it doesn't fit the legal definition of beef, I'd prefer they didn't try and pretend that it did. That's the reason we have consumer protection laws in this country.

On the other hand, I would think that for a taco filling, the test would be how much of the solids in the mixture were beef, regardless of how much of water is present. Just my opinion.

RE: Just feeding the sharks
By gmyx on 1/28/2011 10:07:23 AM , Rating: 2
Next time ask for oat.

RE: Just feeding the sharks
By wired00 on 1/26/2011 5:22:25 PM , Rating: 2
the point of the matter is that you can't market something when its not what you say it is. whether people know its real "ground beef" or not there are health and food regulations in place for a reason. if these company's are left unchecked the world will end up just like the movie "idiocracy" where sport water replaces real water. "contains water products"

RE: Just feeding the sharks
By wired00 on 1/26/2011 5:28:39 PM , Rating: 2
i should have said "label" not "market" ;) obviously marketing dept's do whatever they please.

RE: Just feeding the sharks
By Skywalker123 on 1/28/2011 12:18:00 PM , Rating: 2
No harm in the company being required to tell you how much meat is in it. I don't know about you but I like knowing what I'm putting in my stomach.

RE: Just feeding the sharks
By lyeoh on 2/4/2011 1:12:56 PM , Rating: 2
But many "Anglos" don't that's why they disguise the animals they eat in different forms.

Have a roasted pig/chicken looking like a roasted pig/chicken with head intact and they lose their appetite for some reason. Same goes for fish.

They don't want to know that:
eggs = aborted chicken embryos.
honey = partially digested and thickened bee puke.
toast = ground up grass embryos, partially digested by some yeast (assuming you're eating the "good stuff"), then baked and then reheated till brown.
bacon = a pig's sliced belly (assuming "streaky bacon"), heavily salted, typically smoked.
sausages = go figure...

In other places stuff like grasshoppers, maggots, spiders are pretty much in their original shape (just a bit toasted/fried) when you eat them ;).

BTW the FDA says that canned mushrooms may contain up to an average of 19 maggots per 100grams of drained mushrooms:
More here:

I think it would be a good thing if more people fully realized that some unfortunate animal died just so that they could eat it (or waste it for that matter).

Salt and um, salt?
By Leebean01 on 1/25/2011 3:50:10 PM , Rating: 2
Anybody else notice salt is in there twice? Sometimes your salt just needs more salt.

RE: Salt and um, salt?
By cscpianoman on 1/25/2011 8:27:56 PM , Rating: 2
That is because one salt is in the seasoning, which is, most likely prepackaged from the manufacturer to taco bell and the other salt is added afterwards from some 50lb bag. Either way, salt makes up a large part of this product, which is a common theme in any fast food environment/prepackaged food:/

Food allergies or intolerances
By jharper12 on 1/26/2011 2:43:24 PM , Rating: 2
This is a serious issue for people with food allergies or intolerances trying to eat out today. I am a celiac, and pretty much all of us know to avoid Taco Bell. However, it may be weeks or months before a newly diagnosed celiac realizes that there is gluten in Taco Bell's "meat." For the record, celiacs are intolerant to gluten, which is in wheat, rye, barley, and usually oats through cross-contamination.

So yes, everyone should be aware that Taco Bell's meat isn't really meat from intuition alone; however, these places really should tell you what they are putting in your food. This can be life or death to some folks. I'm not about forced regulation, but maybe a sponsored program where businesses are encouraged to display food content. Then, as businesses like Taco Bell start to lose money, because they aren't participating, then they'll hop on board the same initiative.

RE: Food allergies or intolerances
By tng on 2/2/2011 2:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
celiacs are intolerant to gluten, which is in wheat, rye, barley, and usually oats through cross-contamination.
That really sucks if you want a beer, or whiskey for that matter....

Reminds me of a movie....
By monkeyman1140 on 1/27/2011 5:38:15 PM , Rating: 2
"You know, I don't think there's any meat in this. Looks like meat, tastes like meat, it isn't meat at all! Double-Plus good!"

-Parsons, cafeteria scene; "1984" by George Orwell.

RE: Reminds me of a movie....
By frobizzle on 2/2/2011 9:24:46 AM , Rating: 2
It is even more reminiscent of an episode of the Simpsons. In it Lisa was trying to become a vegetarian. She has this conversation with the Lunch Lady

Lisa: Don't you have anything without meat in it?

Lunch Lady Doris: Possibly the meat loaf.

bad food is bad.
By chromal on 1/29/2011 3:43:23 PM , Rating: 4
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's the BEEF?

now im hungry
By kattanna on 1/25/2011 10:50:57 AM , Rating: 3
all i ever get from taco bell anyways is their grilled steak soft tacos.. and now im really in the mood for some today


Taco Filling etc
By atlmann10 on 1/25/2011 12:08:32 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah; the steak soft taco's are my favorites as well. The big thing here is as I read through these ingredients most of them actually sound to be better for you than most other fillers I could think of.

While steak is hard to substitute because it is all meat, and therefore more expensive, I don't really see much here than flies circling the pile as far as a lawsuit goes. I don't mean it is entirely invalid as it seem to be totally based on fact. I would just like to know what exactly is contained in all "meat products" sold in fast food restaurants.

Like whatever that crap is they make burger king burgers out of. I mean the whopper still tastes like the whopper, but if you eat any of there other burgers "especially the ones the advertise other than the Whopper" that crap is nasty.

While I personally do not eat much fast food anyway (maybe once or twice a month), they should regulate that crap like they are doing the products at Walmart. One of the things Michele Obama has done is enlist Wally World as a partner.

This makes great sense as they are by far the largest grocery provider in the US now. They or at least it seems were first enlisted in this way to provide more ecologically biodegradable packaging which was a great success. Now they are reducing the amount of sugar (25% reduction I believe it was), and salt 10% reduction across the board. The 10/25 is either correct or flipped (25% salt/ 10% Sugar reduction) on every locational product on there shelves.

In the end it should influence changes market wide as it did in the packaging process, as well as across the board in products produced by big name stores as well as brand's. That seems like very smart thinking to me!

Taco Bell is healthy!
By Rott3nHIppi3 on 1/25/2011 3:23:16 PM , Rating: 2
When I was an employee some 18+ yrs ago, they told me it was like 40% soy product even way back then. Not sure if any of you even remember when they introduced the "light" menu... all they did was use lighter colored taco shells and the filling was a 100% soy product w/ added flavoring. It was pretty much a scam cause you payed more for the same product.. .Soy Filling in a Corn shell!

... and I'm still hungry for a $5 Box!!! Yummy!!

RE: Taco Bell is healthy!
By lyeoh on 2/4/2011 1:18:51 PM , Rating: 1
From the ingredients it's not much of a soy product.

The filler appears to be water and "isolated oat product".

Irresponsible Blog
By mindless1 on 2/8/2011 3:34:21 PM , Rating: 2
This blog is *reporting* that it is 36% meat rather than making it clear that is only the accusation.

In fact, any meat *sauce* prepared for consumption is not 100% beef, 100% beef is very bland and tasteless. Independent reports put the beef content at about 88%, which is pretty normal for a seasoned and texture controlled food. In fact if you buy plain old frozen chicken breast at a grocery store you are probably getting meat plus about as much injected saline solution.

To all those who *knew* it was mostly non-meat, congratulations you were wrong and further evidence surfaced after this blog appeared which proves that... but chemistry, that's a bit too much like science, right?

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki