Thursday, January 27, 2011

PETA Applauds Taco Bell’s Efforts to Eliminate Meat from Its Food

IRVINE, Calif. -- Think outside the bun? According to a lawsuit filed by a California woman, Taco Bell is thinking outside the slaughterhouse. The class-action suit, which seeks no monetary damages, objects to Taco Bell calling its products “seasoned ground beef” or “seasoned beef,” when a substantial amount of the filling is composed of water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, anti-dusting agents, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch, and sodium phosphate. The meat-inspired product also contains seasonings and some trace amount of beef.

“Taco Bell’s definition of ‘seasoned beef’ does not conform to consumers’ reasonable expectation or ordinary meaning of seasoned beef, which is beef and seasonings,” the suit says. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines beef as the “flesh of cattle.” But it also defines tacos as a “food of Mexico.”

Despite the controversy, Taco Bell has discovered an unlikely ally in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Advocates from the radical animal rights group, who have traditionally despised meat-vending fast food restaurants nearly as much as furriers, are rushing to Taco Bell’s defense.

Lucius Blicero, an executive from PETA’s Bennington Vale branch, says that he applauds Taco Bell for making what he calls “the most honest attempt at corporate responsibility where animal rights are concerned” for any non-vegan restaurant.

“Just today I saw a commercial for General Mills’ cereals,” Blicero said. “It was aimed at fat people on the verge of cardiac arrest, who were suddenly worried about their health. But it makes a great point. Whole grains, oats, and fibers are proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and certain types of cancer. Stuffing your face full of red meat just increases the certainty that your stomach will explode on the subway. Even worse, using beef means killing an innocent animal. There’s just no reason for continuing the senseless slaughter of earth’s first and most vital creatures. And Taco Bell’s heroic step forward in refusing to use meat in its foods is commendable.”

Taco Bell officials have told the press that they will “vigorously defend” the suit in court.

Said Taco Bell spokesperson Barry Johnson-White, “We comply with all FDA guidelines for health and safety. There’s a reason our tacos have such low calorie counts and cost. And there is some meat in them, and we’re pretty sure it’s from cows. Are we worried about this largely symbolic suit? No. But we’ve received word today from government officials that the entire country of Mexico is launching a class action suit against Taco Bell for referring to its menu items as Mexican food. That one’s gonna kill us, frankly. There may be only 35 percent actual beef in the ‘ground beef,’ but only two percent of Taco Bell contains actual Mexicans. And they’re the ones deep frying tortillas and wiping down the toilets after hours.”

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