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Taco Bell says false advertising lawsuit has no meat


An order of nachos is seen on a table at a Taco Bell fast food restaurant in New York December 7, 2006. REUTERS/Keith Bedford
An order of nachos is seen on a table at a Taco Bell fast food restaurant in New York December 7, 2006. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Taco Bell Corp is pushing back against a lawsuit that claims the fast food chain's "seasoned ground beef" is not all it's made out to be.

Taco Bell, a Yum Brands Inc subsidiary, said on Tuesday that it plans to take legal action against the "false statements" being made about its food. The chain operates, manages or franchises more than 5,600 locations in the United States, according to the lawsuit.

Taco Bell's tacos, burritos and other Mexican menu items advertised with beef actually contain a filling of mostly non-meat substances like "isolated oat product," according to the lawsuit filed last week in a California federal court.

"The 'chicken' and 'carne asada steak' served by Taco Bell is, in fact, chicken or carne asada steak," the lawsuit says. "The 'seasoned beef,' however, is not beef."

Taco Bell simmers 100 percent U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected beef in a "proprietary blend of seasonings and spices" to give it a signature taste and texture, Taco Bell President Greg Creed said in a statement.

All seasoning ingredients are listed on the website, he said.

"Unfortunately, the lawyers in this case elected to sue first and ask questions later -- and got their 'facts' absolutely wrong," Creed said.

Dee Miles, who represents the plaintiff, said Taco Bell calls its product "taco meat filling" inside the company, but beef to customers.

"We're going to move forward and I believe we're going to be successful," Miles said.

The proposed class action lawsuit asks Taco Bell to stop misrepresenting its products and engage in a corrective advertising campaign. It also seeks attorneys' fees and costs.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Central District of California is Amanda Obney v. Taco Bell Corp., 11-00101.

(Reporting by Dan Levine. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

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