"Thank you for suing us" — Taco Bell Fights Back on Beef Lawsuit
February 2, 2011
This is a fine example of cases where it all ends up becoming what trial lawyers call: “battle of experts.” The issue is not hinged upon intangible facts, but tangible evidence. Taco Bell fillings either is 88% USDA inspected beef–as Taco Bell claims–or it is only 35% beef as the plaintiff’s allege. The beef, so to speak, is all in the methods used to measure and how each expert uses the relevant definitions and how the relevant facts are interpreted.
Taco Bell is launching an advertising campaign Friday to fight back against a lawsuit charging its taco filling isn’t beef.
The fast-food chain placed full-page print ads in Friday’s editions of the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and other papers as well as online ads to “set the record straight,” company President Greg Creed told The Associated Press.
The print ads say, in huge letters, “Thank you for suing us. Here’s the truth about our seasoned beef.” They go on to outline the meat’s ingredients. The chain did not say how much it is spending on the campaign, but such ads in national newspapers can cost more than $100,000.
The class-action lawsuit was filed late last week in federal court in California. It claimed Taco Bell falsely advertised its products as “beef.” The suit alleges that the fast-food chain actually uses a meat mixture in its burritos and tacos that contains binders and extenders and does not meet requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled beef.
Taco Bell quickly denied the accusation. “The lawsuit is bogus and filled with completely inaccurate facts,” Taco Bell President Creed said in an interview.
The lawsuit, filed by the Alabama law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, doesn’t specify what percentage of the mixture is meat. But the firm’s attorney Dee Miles said the firm had the product tested and found it contained less than 35 percent beef. The firm would not say who tested the meat or give any other specifics of the analysis.
Taco Bell says its seasoned beef contains 88 percent USDA-inspected beef and the rest is water, spices and a mixture of oats, starch and other ingredients that contribute to the “quality of its product.” The company said it uses no extenders.