Thursday, September 28, 2023
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    Taco Bell sued for false advertising over skimpy fillings

    A New York man last year bought a Mexican Pizza at Taco Bell, thinking the menu item would look like the one in the advertisements he had seen, with a thick, appetizing layer of ground meat and beans. Instead, what he got for his $5.49 had him invoking another fast-food chain’s famous tagline of yore: “Where’s the beef?”

    That’s according to a class-action lawsuit that Frank Siragusa filed today in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York on behalf of himself and other customers disappointed by the amount of filling in Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza items as well as its Crunchwraps. Siragusa accuses Taco Bell of “unfair and materially misleading advertising” and is seeking upward of $5 million from the chain for alleged violations of law banning unfair and deceptive trade practices.

    “The Mexican Pizza that Plaintiff purchased contained approximately half the beef and bean filling that he expected,” the lawsuit says. The lawsuit includes photos used by Taco Bell in its advertisements alongside photos of the actual items taken by customers — the latter of which look flat and unappealing next to the company’s images.

    The lawsuit posits that Siragusa and others wouldn’t have shelled out the money for the Crunchwraps and pizzas if they had known they were getting punier versions of the ones depicted. In addition to compensating people who bought the products, the lawsuit also asks Taco Bell to “provide corrected advertisements” or stop selling the items.

    A representative for Taco Bell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    “Taco Bell’s actions are especially concerning now that inflation, food, and meat prices are very high and many consumers, especially lower income consumers, are struggling financially,” the lawsuit says.

    One of the attorneys representing Siragusa, Anthony Russo, represented a Florida Burger King customer last year in a similar lawsuit. In that filing, a man who purchased a burger from the chain complained that the company made its burgers appear far beefier than they were in real life. “Little situations — what some would consider to be a little situation like this — could lead to unfettered behavior from big corporations,” Russo said last year in an interview with The Washington Post.

    The lawsuit filed this week included similar claims in the media and by YouTube reviewers about Taco Bell’s offerings. One article on the food site, titled “Why Reddit Is Calling Out Taco Bell’s Skimpy Crunchwraps,” documented multiple people complaining about the popular menu item, which consists of a crisp tortilla stuffed with seasoned beef, nacho cheese and other toppings.

    The Mexican pizza, a pair of crunchy tortillas sandwiching a meaty filling and topped with cheese and other garnishes, is a fan-favorite item that Taco Bell returned to its menu last year after drawing outcry for discontinuing it in 2020. The chain hyped the revival, including in a TikTok musical featuring Dolly Parton and Doja Cat.

    Taco Bell’s legal department has been busy of late; the chain earlier this month prevailed in a dispute with the smaller brand Taco John’s which had held the copyright to the phrase “Taco Tuesday” in most of the country. Taco John’s said it was relinquishing control over the moniker rather than pay attorneys’ fees to tussle with its larger rival.



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