Taco Bell says taco meat is actually meat; lawsuit withdrawn


Traffic is busy outside a Taco Bell restaurant Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2006, in Burbank, Calif. (Ric Francis/AP)

In January, an Alabama law firm filed a suit against the fast-food chain for false advertising, saying Taco Bell’s taco meat filling was only 36 percent of beef, made up of mostly chemicals, starches and powders.

Taco Bell, based in Irvine, Calif., said Monday the allegations were “absolutely wrong” and the lawsuit was voluntarily withdrawn by the firm that filed.

Taco Bell had spent nearly $4 million in advertising to counter the accusations of mystery meat, taking out full-page ads in at least nine major newspapers, and launching a television and online campaign that proclaimed its tacos were 88 — not 36 — percent beef.

Taco Bell said the other 12 percent was their “signature recipe,” comprised of water, spices, garlic powder, cocoa powder, sugar, citric acid, yeast, and “other ingredients.”

On their website, Taco Bell calls those other ingredients “tongue twisters,” and though they claim it’s easy to see a complete recipe list, it takes more than a little digging to find words like ‘maltodextrin’ and ‘soy lethicin.’

Taco Bell said it would not change any of its products or advertising. However, the firm that withdrew the lawsuit said Taco Bell already had made changes to its marketing and product disclosure.

Taco Bell Chief Executive Greg Creed said of the suit:

This sets the record straight about the high quality of our seasoned beef and the integrity of our advertising. We took great exception to the false claims made about our seasoned beef and wish the attorneys had contacted us before filing and publicizing a lawsuit that disparaged our brand.

Here are two commercials Taco Bell released in a strong public defense against the lawsuit. In this commercial, Taco Bell employees stand by their company and the 88 percent beef claim:

In this ad, the smell of a Taco Bell bacon chalupa on a girl is “intoxicating”:

This post has been updated.

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