Cafe Society

Taco Bell: "Thank you for suing us."

This pissing match just keeps getting weirder. In light of lab tests alleging that Taco Bell's "meat" is actually only 36 percent meat, Louisiana-based law firm Beasley Allen filed suit against the Mexican fast food chain for false advertising. Angry and insistent that the claims are totally false, Taco Bell said it would take legal action against the law firm.

But now, the taco chain has taken it a step further: It bought full page ads in major papers across the country today, thanking Beasley Allen for suing, and giving the "truth about the seasoned beef."

According to those ads, the meat in the Taco Bell tacos is actually 88 percent beef (apologies to vegans, vegetarians and anyone else suggesting that Taco Bell add other ingredients to make up for the deficit), and twelve percent "secret recipe" -- i.e., seasoning. If that's true, it's still tricky, because the USDA definition of ground beef specifically states that it can't contain "added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders." And one of the ingredients in the meat filling is, most definitely, sodium phosphate, which is a common preservative. It'll be up to a court to decide whether the rest of the secret ingredients qualify as binders or extenders.

Still, it definitely sounds like Taco Bell has a case -- as long as it can get rid of the results of those pesky lab tests.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk