On assignment at the Internet, Pamville News reporters have scoured secondhand news items and trumped up sources to reveal the latest news and fabrications over the recent lawsuit against Taco Bell.
A class-action suit was filed against Taco Bell on Jan. 19 in federal court on behalf of Amanda Obney of California. Obney claims to have tested Taco Bell's "taco meat filling" and found it contains only 35 percent beef. The other 65 percent, the suit says, consists of binders and fillers, such as wheat- oat- and soy-based products, as well as water and silicon dioxide, a type of sand used as a food declumper — and a beach filler.
The suit doesn't ask for money, but rather that Taco Bell adhere to truth in advertising standards. The USDA requires that "taco meat filling" have at least 40 percent meat.
When asked by Pamville reporters about permitting 60 percent "other" products in the meat food substance, one USDA representative defended the government's allowed ratio of meat-to-fillers.
"When pressed by the food industry to redefine our meat product labeling standards, we just 'spelled it out,'" she said, adding a wink and a laugh. "See, if you look at the word 'meat,' all the letters spell meat, therefore, to use the meat label 100 percent of the product has to be the flesh of an animal.
"By this standard," she said, "we can look at the term 'meat filling' and see that only four out of 10 letters spell meat, so those products only require 40 percent flesh of an animal. It's a simple and elegant system, really.
"D'you know that USDA has a 'meat flavored thingies' standard?" she added. "Yeah. There's a lot of food out there with little or no meat — but it still tastes like beef or chicken, or whatever — so we just said, hey, by our standards, if we call those foods something with 20 letters, like 'meat flavored thingies,' then we can allow 20 percent or less actual meat in them. They might have artificial meat flavoring and no real meat, but it's still technically legal. It's a cool system."
The official line from Taco Bell is that they will be fighting the suit. A statement released by the company said, "Taco Bell prides itself on serving high quality Mexican inspired food with great value."
One employee of Taco Bell, who couldn't be named because he just sweeps the floors in one of the franchises so isn't authorized to speak for the entire company (yet), told Pamville reporters that the lawsuit is "bogus."
"That lawsuit lady needs to be looking elsewhere to cause trouble. Five percent less meat than some stupid regulation says we should have? That ain't nothin'," he said.
"She should go bug the hamburger and pizza joints. Hamburgers have zero percent ham in them. Pizzas? Give me a break. Pepperoni isn't made of pepper and 'oni.' There ain't no such thing as an 'oni,'" he said. "And you know somebody'd get sued if there was a real Canadian in that Canadian bacon. It's bogus."
Insiders in the high-volume-low-nutrition food industry, however, note that Taco Bell is just the Mexican-inspired unit of Yum Brands Inc. and tell Pamville News that the parent company is considering many alternatives to the future direction of all their companies.
"The advertising people are working on an angle to promote the Taco Bell taco as 65 percent vegetarian friendly," the insider said. "But the real exciting stuff is in the Yummy Science Department where they're developing what they call the Taco Bell Beefer. It's a cow, named after the short-lived Taco Bell burger. It'll be genetically altered to contain the binders and fillers in its meat already, like before its even processed.
"Then they can say their Mexican-inspired product is 100 percent meat of the animal, but still have all the fake stuff consumers have come to expect," the insider said. "It's brilliant, really."
Thank you for reading Pamville News, where our motto is: "Thirty-five percent factual is good enough for us."
(That makes us 65 percent imagination friendly at http://viewnorth40.wordpress.com.)