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Fast Food

Taco Bell: In a Beef Over Beef

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Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 6:45 AM
click to enlarge LEE BENNETT/FLICKR
  • Lee Bennett/Flickr

California resident Amanda Obney visited a local Taco Bell and bought herself a snack. We imagine that she ordered a brace of tacos, and upon contemplating her purchase--wee brown crumbles cupped in crunchy shells, topped with vivid orange shreds, watery lettuce, and the kind of "hot" sauce you squirt from a packet--decided she was going to sue the high holy crap out of the company LAist yesterday generously referred to as a "Mexicasual" eatery. She elected to get all litigious, but not because Taco Bell saddled her with wretched indigestion or served hot sauce was not, in fact, hot.

No, Obney got pissed because the ground beef in the food she bought was not, according to her Alabama-based attorneys' claims, actually beef. You've read it elsewhere: she tested the "meat"; it revealed itself to be 35% beef, the rest being binders, extenders, and what appears to be a good deal of oats--your basic veggie burger business. Obney is suing Taco Bell in the U.S. District Court in the Central District, Southern Division, in Santa Ana, and though she is not pushing for monetary compensation, she hopes the court will compel the corporation to curb its false advertising.

Does that make the cause noble? It doesn't really. We aren't part of the camp that slings tomatoes at "frivolous class actions," but this suit is fluffier than a McDonald's bun; it makes the plaintiff and her fellow class members seem dim and her attorneys hungry for attention. Obney may not want any cash, but lawsuits do cost money. Why not publicize the findings and cause the Bell a little embarrassment, but let the state save a few bucks?

Then again, maybe the legal debate over the extent to which beef can not actually be beef will be worth the price of admission. According to Nation's Restaurant News, Taco Bell may be responding with a suit of its own:

"Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell fired back Tuesday, saying the lawyers in the case 'got their 'facts' absolutely wrong,' and that the company would take legal action for the 'false statements being made about [the company's] food.'"

If this somehow went to trial, could you imagine the expert witnesses?

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