Monday, January 24, 2011

How much food has to be in "food"?

A group of people recently filed a class-action lawsuit against Taco Bell, claiming that their beef tacos were anything but. (Thank you Mouse Print Blog, and to Gail for sending it to us.) They want to argue, instead, that the food should be called "meat" tacos because it contains only 36% beef. But, the thing is, the meat mixture contains many things that aren't meat at all. Here is the ingredient list:

There are multiple issues here including whether Taco Bell is simply lying about their food. But the philosophical questions at the heart of the matter ask us to consider what counts as "meat" and "food" in the first place. So many of our foods contains vast numbers of preservatives and fillers, that it makes me wonder what we should call this stuff. "Soda" and "Nuggets" aren't real things in and of themselves, so I suppose that those names aren't misleading, but Chikken or Cheeze... well, that's a whole different animal. (Or not, as the case may be.)

It is also worth mentioning that Taco Bell isn't the only one in trouble with this sort of thing. McDonald's just settled a complaint from the State of Vermont because their so-called maple oatmeal has no maple in it. So,what do you think? Is the food labeling we use too misleading? How much meat has to be in a mixture for it to be called "meat," and how much beef is needed for Taco Bell to call something "beef". Is McDonald's wrong to call non-maple oatmeal maple even if it tastes like it? (Which it probably doesn't.) 

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's lunchtime. I think I'll go get some füd

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