For those of you who flock to Taco Bell in an attempt to “think outside the bun,” I’d like to share some interesting news that may soon have you running away from the border rather than towards it. The fast-food chain has recently been under fire for reports and claims that its taco filling is NOT real beef. In a class-action lawsuit filed late last week, the talking chihuahua-backed eatery was accused of falsely advertising its products as beef, and alleges the chain actually uses a meat mixture in its burritos and tacos that contains binders and extenders (aka fake meat products) that does not meet requirements set by the US Department of Agriculture to be labeled as beef. Taco Bell, however, denies these accusations, saying its beef contains 88% USDA-inspected beef and “other ingredients” that contribute to the quality of its product (umm, ok).
In an attempt to salvage their reputation of quick service Mexican-style favorites, Taco Bell launched an advertising campaign this morning to fight back. Full-page print ads were placed by the chain in today’s editions of USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and other newspapers as well as online to ‘set the record straight.’ The print ads say, in huge letters, “Thank you for suing us. Here’s the truth about our seasoned beef,” and go on to outline the added ingredients which include water, spices and a mixture of oats and starch (yum!). Although Taco Bell did not state how much it is spending on the campaign, such ads in national newspapers can cost more than $100,000 each!
Industry and public relations executives say it’s critical for the company to respond forcefully to head off damage to its top 10-ranking spot in the fast-food hierarchy, however, with more than 35 million customers per week it’s very unlikely Taco Bell will suffer a significant dent in its image or business. I on the other hand, will simply continue to avoid that purple and pink liberty bell and opt for real food, but I do give them credit for finally copping up to what we all already knew.