Taco Bell Sued - Is Their Ground Beef Really Ground Beef?

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jan 25, 2011 5:40PM

TacoBellLogo.jpg This seems to be the week of fast food revelations and scary food scandals! Taco Bell, the tex-mex fast food giant with 10 Chicagoland locations, is being sued by a law firm in Montgomery, Alabama. The lawyers are alleging that Taco Bell's ground beef isn't really ground beef at all, but "Taco Meat Filling" which does not fit the legal or practical definition of ground beef. Now, many Taco Bell customers will be less than shocked that something fishy is going on with the filling in the tacos, but we were more surprised to find out that there IS a legal definition of ground beef. Call us naive, but we assumed that it was just... beef, ground up. We were almost right. In order to legally qualify as ground beef, a product must be made of" 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." Taco Bell might not fit the bill.

On their website, Taco Bell lists the second ingredient in its "Seasoned Ground Beef" as water. Whoops. That's a problem right there. There are also about 30 other ingredients that the Alabama lawyers argue count under the category of "phosphates, binders or extenders."

Will this affect any of you who eat Taco Bell? Probably not, as this information was publically available before the lawsuit. But it may lead to some interesting changes in Taco Bell's menu. "Try our new taco with... taco meat filling." Appetizing, isn't it?

UPDATE (3:00): A Statement from Taco Bell.

“At Taco Bell, we buy our beef from the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket, like Tyson Foods. We start with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef. Then we simmer it in our proprietary blend of seasonings and spices to give our seasoned beef its signature Taco Bell taste and texture. We are proud of the quality of our beef and identify all the seasoning and spice ingredients on our website. Unfortunately, the lawyers in this case elected to sue first and ask questions later -- and got their “facts” absolutely wrong. We plan to take legal action for the false statements being made about our food.”

Greg Creed
President and Chief Concept Officer
Taco Bell Corp.

Ed Note: All beef sold in the United States must be 100% USDA Inspected. AT