It appears that Taco Bell is interested in having a debate over the meaning of the word “beef.” The fast food chain, victim of a class-action lawsuit claiming that its taco beef is only 35 percent actual beef, has released a new ad directed at its accusers (as well as its customers, presumably) saying, “Thank you for suing us.”
In the ad, Taco Bell denies that charges against it without naming them and declares that its “beef is 100% USDA inspected.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the lawsuit is about how much of Taco Bell’s beef is USDA inspected. That is what those words mean — because they very clearly didn’t say that their beef is 100 percent beef. The ad then goes on to defend the very practice of seasoning taco beef — another element that I don’t think was really at issue. I mean, this isn’t the Pure Beefers suing over salt and onion powder. And what of those fillers like oat (wheat) and silicon dioxide? Taco Bell doesn’t deny them exactly, but indirectly classes them under “other ingredients” that “contribute to the moisture, consistency and quality” of their beef. Now, adding that stuff surely “contributes” to the quality of their product, but perhaps not in the way they mean.
The ad concludes with the assertion that Taco Bell beef filling is 88 percent beef, with seasonings and fillers other ingredients making up the rest. When, how, or what exactly they are measuring, we don’t know and can’t evaluate. And so, to understand fully what’s going on inside Taco Bell’s beef, we’ll just have to see them in court.
The fact is, Taco Bell is in the unenviable position of defending against accusations that its food is not really food. In the end, I would argue that the damage has been done.
- Taco Bell ‘beef’: mostly not beef
- Is Taco Bell’s beef ‘filler’ the healthiest thing it sells?
- Tom Philpott takes a look at the other strange substances Taco Bell serves up