Taco Bell Defends Beef, Calls Suit 'Bogus'

Company responds to lawsuit that claims beefy filling is only 35 percent beef.

ByKATIE MOISSE, ABC News Medical Unit
January 27, 2011, 8:18 AM

Jan. 27, 2011— -- Taco Bell President Greg Creed has responded to a California woman's "beef" about his company's taco meat filling, calling her class-action "bogus and filled with completely inaccurate facts."

"There is no basis in fact or reality for this suit, and we will vigorously defend the quality of our products from frivolous and misleading claims such as this," Creed said in a statement on the company's website.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 19 by the California law firms Blood, Hurst & O'Reardon LLP, and Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles on behalf of Amanda Obney, claims Taco Bell's beef filling is 65 percent binders, extenders, preservatives, additives and other agents, and wants Taco Bell to stop calling it "beef."

"Our seasoned beef recipe contains 88 percent quality USDA-inspected beef and 12 percent seasonings, spices, water and other ingredients that provide taste, texture and moisture," Creed said. "The lawyers got their facts wrong. We take this attack on our quality very seriously and plan to take legal action against them for making false statements about our products."

Creed said Taco Bell uses a proprietary recipe to give its seasoned beef flavor and texture -- "just like you would with any recipe you cook at home." The final product, he said, contains 3 to 5 percent water for moisture, 3 to 5 percent spices, and 3 to 5 percent oats, starch, sugar, yeast, citric acid, and other ingredients you'd find at home or in the supermarket.

"Our seasoned beef contains no 'extenders' to add volume, as some might use," Creed said.

The full list of ingredients is posted on the Taco Bell website.

Countersuit Coming?

The lawsuit garnered significant media attention, prompting headlines like "Where's the Beef?"

"We take this attack on our quality very seriously and plan to take legal action against them for making false statements about our products," Creed said.

But the law firm behind the suit is standing its ground.

"We are disappointed that Taco Bell chooses to repeat its false statements rather than simply tell the truth," said Timothy Blood, a lawyer with Blood, Hurst & O'Reardon LLP. "Food additives such as isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agents, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate are neither beef nor spices."

Since filing the suit, the firm has received e-mails and phone calls from Taco Bell customers who say they've suffered "severe allergic reactions from eating the food additives in Taco Bell's beef-flavored food products," Blood said.

"We urge Taco Bell to be at least as interested in the well-being of its customers as it is in marketing, public relations and profit," Blood said.

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