taco bell beefTaco Bell is fending off a lawsuit filed last week against the fast-food giant which alleges that it uses too many non-meat fillers in its beef, and is threatening to sue its accusers of filing "false claims."

The complaint by an Alabama law firm says Taco Bell engages in false advertising when touting its "seasoned ground beef" or "seasoned beef" fare, because the company allegedly only uses about 35% real beef, with the remaining 65% containing various binders and extenders. Such mixture, including soybean oil and silicon dioxide, does not meet the USDA's minimum requirements to be labeled as "beef," according to the suit. The consumer rights class-action was filed on behalf of a Taco Bell customer, Amanda Obney, who is not seeking monetary damages, but wants the Yum! Brands chain to be honest in its advertising.

"This action seeks to require Taco Bell to properly advertise and label these food items and to engage in a corrective advertising campaign to educate the public about the true content of its food products," the suit says.

With more than 5,600 restaurants in the U.S., the Mexican-style fast food franchise has a lot riding on the accusations. The company issued a statement on its website claiming that it buys its beef from the same "trusted brands" that consumers find in the supermarket, then simmers it in a "proprietary blend of seasonings and spices." It threatened to take legal action against its accusers, though it did not specify what it intends to do.

"Unfortunately, the lawyers in this case elected to sue first and ask questions later -- and got their 'facts' absolutely wrong," Taco Bell President Greg Creed said in the statement.

While the class action questions only the quality of the meat and the way it is advertised, Taco Bell has had to deal with several other brushes with bad publicity.

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