UPDATE: The Bell wins!
Turns out the stuff I used to turn to after a wild Saturday night–aka the Beef Burrito Supreme at Taco Bell–may not have much beef, so says a lawsuit filed in Alabama:
“Our government, through the USDA and FDA, provides definitions, standards and labeling guidelines for ‘ground beef'; What Taco Bell is representing on their restaurant menu as ‘ground beef’ does not meet any of those definitions, standards and labeling guidelines,” explains Beasley Allen attorney Dee Miles. “This product does not qualify to be considered ‘ground beef’ and many of the seasoning ingredients are in fact binders, fillers and coloring. These ingredients increase the overall volume of this product, reducing the actual ‘beef'; content per serving. It is against the law in this country to take someone’s money for a product that is misrepresented. This lawsuit seeks to put a stop to that type of conduct and practice,” he says.
One reason I stopped eating at Taco Bell was I noticed it increased my overall volume. But I digress.
Taco Bell chimes in with this response:
“Taco Bell prides itself on serving high quality Mexican inspired food with great value. We’re happy that the millions of customers we serve every week agree. We deny our advertising is misleading in any way and we intend to vigorously defend the suit.”
What remains to be seen is how vigorously they’ll fight this allegation in the court of public opinion. Though this is certainly no finger in the chili or booger on the pizza, it can’t help the brand any if the suggestion that they aren’t using actual beef–or are using a lot of fillers–takes hold in the consumer mind. (The lawsuit’s use of the term “meat concoction” is going to be tough to overcome if it catches on.)
For the moment it appears they are weighing legal options. Their public response is (I assume) forthcoming….unless it truly is “We’ll see how this comes out in court.” That, my friends, is a dangerous proposition. Lawsuits take time, and in the interim between a court filing and a verdict, all that could be left of the Bell’s reputation may be an empty (taco) shell.
Without knowing if they have been caught doing something wrong or not, it’s tough to say what I’d do, other than be as transparent as legally possible as soon as possible. Tricky.
I’ll keep an eye on this one–at the very least their advertisements might get pulled or altered. In the meantime, assuming this lawsuit’s allegations are correct, what would you say if you were Taco Bell?
I had a comment from a loyal reader who fears this might change the future:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'” –Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968)