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US fast food giant defends beef products

A Taco Bell restaurant in Mountain View, California (file image from December 2010)
Image caption Taco Bell says its meat is 88% beef seasoned with spices, salt and other ingredients

US fast food giant Taco Bell has taken out full-page advertisements defending its beef products.

The move comes as the chain is being sued in California over allegations that it uses large amounts of additives and little actual meat.

Taco Bell, which is also running an online advertising campaign, disputes claims its meat products contain only 35% meat.

A class-action suit alleging false advertising was filed last week.

It claims the meat that goes into Taco Bell products also contains "binders and extenders" - thickeners and bulking agents - and does not have enough meat to be called "beef".

The company has denied these claims. It says its seasoned beef is 88% beef, with the remaining 12% a secret recipe - including water, sugar and spices.

"Thank you for suing us. Here's the truth about our seasoned beef," the advert placed by the company reads, adding that the USDA-inspected quality beef accounts for almost 90% of the meat content in its taco fillings.

On its website, the company warns of "legal action against those who have made false claims against our seasoned beef".

The case is being brought by an Alabama law firm.

According to the Associated Press, the law firm's representative, Dee Miles, said tests had found the filling contained only 35% beef.

Taco Bell restaurants serve 35 million people a week with items such as ground beef tacos and steak burritos.

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