Screen shot 2011-01-28 at 9.39.49 AM.pngA class action lawsuit was filed a few days against Taco Bell. The claim is that its claims that its products contain “seasoned ground beef” or “seasoned beef” are “false and misleading” because the beef is in fact “taco meat filling.”

According to Beth Weise of U.S.A. Today, “Taco beef filling” and “ground beef” are two very different things in the eyes of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Apparently, ground beef must be at least 70% beef (no more than 30% fat) and not include added water, phosphates, extenders or binders, though seasoning may be an ingredient. Taco beef filling must contain at least 40% fresh meat, and the label must show the true product name, such as “Taco Filling with Meat,” “Beef Taco Filling,” or “Taco Meat Filling.”

The latter is how Taco Bell labels the beef filling sent to its restaurants, the lawsuit contends, and it includes a copy of one of the labels. But in ads the company calls it “seasoned ground beef.” However, Taco Bell contends that its seasoned beef contains “88% USDA inspected quality beef.”

The merits of the lawsuit aside, you have to give credit to Taco Bell for the novel approach to the litigation.  How come they have never thanked me in the past?

Taco Bell Salmonella Hartford and Baildon Outbreaks, Nationwide, 2010

Taco Bell Hepatitis A Outbreak, Florida, 2000

Taco Bell E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak, Northeast, 2006