Taco Bell fights back on beef suit with advertising blitz

Taco Bell launched an advertising campaign Friday to fight back against a lawsuit charging its taco filling isn't beef. The fast-food chain placed full-page 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 said.

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. 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 lawsuit is bogus and filled with completely inaccurate facts," Creed said in an interview.

Plaintiff attorney Dee Miles said the firm had the product tested and found it contained less than 35 percent beef.

The case is thin in potential legal liability, said Marc Williams, an attorney with experience in fast-food litigation. Lawyers would have to prove that most consumers expect they are getting something other than what Taco Bell actually serves. And the lawsuit cites U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for labeling ground beef, which don't apply to restaurants.

The USDA's rules apply to meat processors — the companies from which Taco Bell buys its products.