Ground beef sort of weirds me out. For the obvious reasons, but also because you have no idea what’s in there. When you get a steak at a restaurant, you have a reasonable assurance that you are eating some chunk of a cow, because you can see it on your plate. But when it comes to ground beef – well there could be just about anything in there. Someone could have thrown anything in there, and depending on quantity and flavour, you’d have no idea. There could be cats, newspaper or shoes in your ground beef, and you probably wouldn’t know. Perhaps I read too many scary stories about people being ground up into sausages when I was a kid, but it has always grossed me out to even look at it.
Well, apparently some else ponders about the contents of ground beef as well. Amanda Obsey …
… is suing Taco Bell for false advertising, suggesting that their tacos do not actually contain ‘ground beef’, but ‘ground beef filling’. Well what’s the difference you ask?
The United States Department of Agriculture defines ground beef as “frozen beef with or without seasoning, should not contain more than 30% fat and should not contain water, phosphates, binders or extenders.”
So what’s in Taco Bell’s beef? Water, phosphates, binders and extenders. From their website:
Beef, Water, Seasoning [Isolated Oat Product, Salt, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Tomato Powder, Oats (Wheat), Soy Lecithin, Sugar, Spices, Maltodextrin, Soybean Oil (Anti-dusting Agent), Garlic Powder, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Cocoa Powder (Processed With Alkali), Silicon Dioxide, Natural Flavors, Yeast, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Smoke Flavor], Salt, Sodium Phosphates. CONTAINS SOYBEAN, WHEAT
Now having a pile of additives in fast food is not news to anyone. People generally accept that fast food is awful for them. But do they do so on the basis that there things they can’t define in there? (I personally could not tell you how 5 of those ingredients on the above list are created, or what they come from. It could be running shoes…).
I think this is an interesting lawsuit not only because it is potentially going to force restaurants to take a look at all the crap they put in their food to ensure it can be sold at rock bottom prices, but because the woman suing isn’t doing it for her own personal gain. She hasn’t requested a financial settlement in the case. She is only asking that Taco Bell clarify their advertising.
That, to me, is impressive. I often get the impression that Americans love to sue over just about anything, but to see a case which pits an individual looking to change the way we look at food against a major corporation looking to preserve their reputation and continue to please their shareholders makes me think the fondness of lawsuits isn’t always a bad thing.
Regardless of whether or not this case is won, I hope this will encourage people to consider what goes into their food. After all, if you have to pay $3.99 /lb for ground beef at the grocery store and Taco Bell is selling a 1 lb burrito for about the same cost, there had to be some sort of filler in there. I hope this case results in people putting more reflection into what they eat, and putting more consideration into the concealed/disregarded nature of the food industry.