Taco Bell Gulf Shrimp U.S. Congressman Charles Boustany
Boustany Calls for Taco Bell to Use Louisiana Seafood in Letter to CCO
Washington, DC – U.S. Congressman Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-Southwest Louisiana), in a letter to Taco Bell® President and Chief Concept Officer Greg Creed, called on the fast-food chain to use Gulf of Mexico shrimp in their current marketing campaign.
“As you know, today marks the beginning of the Lenten season – a time when seafood is consumed in large quantities across the United States,” Boustany said in the letter. “I want to alert you that Gulf shrimp has a rich tradition as being of the highest quality in the world, with Louisiana’s coast alone producing nearly one-third of the domestic seafood consumed in the lower forty-eight states.”
Citing studies by federal, state and local agencies, and university scientists which demonstrate the safety of Louisiana seafood, Boustany called for the use of Gulf Coast shrimp in a recently launched ad campaign by Taco Bell® which currently promotes “Pacific shrimp”.
Coastal representatives agreed with Boustany. “In blind taste tests, consumers chose Gulf shrimp 85% of the time over other products sold in the United States,” said Harlon Pearce, Chairman of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. “Gulf Seafood is plentiful and sustainable, and its producers work hard to provide a nourishing, fresh product while protecting species for future generations. It makes sense that Taco Bell should not only consider but specify Gulf shrimp in all its recipes. It would show the country that Taco Bell is here to help the Gulf fisherman continue his efforts in this time of need.”
Congressman Boustany is a leading voice on coastal issues in Louisiana, and has worked tirelessly to restore jobs throughout the Gulf Coast in the wake of the BP tragedy and moratorium.
Taco Bell responds to lawsuit over beef
Taco Bell recently launched a new advertising campaign that boldly combats accusations made against the company in a lawsuit filed against them. The lawsuit claims “less than 35 percent” of the ground beef that Taco Bell uses contains actual beef. The lawsuit also claims that the meat is advertised as beef, but contains fillers and extenders. However, company executives refute this statement, claiming that 88 percent of the ground beef they put into their products is actual meat, while the other 12 percent is composed of flavor-enhancing seasonings.
Industry and public relations executives say that it was necessary for Taco Bell to promptly and boldly respond to these allegations to fend off potential long-term damage to its reputation. Following the popularity of the issue amongst bloggers on the Internet, the company has come at these allegations with several different tactics.
The first response by the company was through a newspaper advertisement launched in January, with the headline: “Thank you for suing us” in large bolded font. Shortly after, a new commercial campaign was released depicting a few of the 150,000 Taco Bell employees and 350 franchise operators in uniform discussing the allegations against the meat head-on. One of the advertisements encourages the viewers to visit the Taco Bell website for the ingredient list. “It’s right there!” an employee says in one of the ads. President Greg Creed personally guarantees that the ingredients are certified by the United States Department of Agriculture with 88 percent ground beef in a video interview.
Taco Bell’s integrated marketing campaign uses TV, radio, Internet, social media and Hispanic-media broadcasts. Taco Bell offered a free crunchy taco to Facebook users who “liked” the company’s Facebook page. Hispanic-media broadcasts and TV commercials included an offer for an 88-cent Crunchwrap Supreme, less than half of the $2.39 original price. The 88-cent price served as a reminder of the alleged actual percentage of ground beef that is USDA certified meat.
According to Creed, all claims made by the Montgomery Law Firm are inaccurate and are not supported by evidence. However, many experts foresee issues for Taco Bell due to concerns that were indirectly highlighted through this lawsuit. The USDA defines ground beef as able to “have seasonings, but no water, phosphates, extenders or binders added.” The ingredient list for Taco Bell, according to their website, lists water as the second most prevalent ingredient in the ground beef.
Even if the allegation made by the lawsuit that claim Taco Bell ground beef is 65 percent fillers is proven false, the company may still have challenges to face regarding advertising tactics. If the beef does not clearly fit the USDA definition, it cannot legally be advertised as ground beef. Foxnews.com also points out another potential problem. The USDA has not certified some of the seasonings Taco Bell uses. It is unknown if these issues will come to play in the court hearing of the case.
Many experts agree that as of now this lawsuit will not hurt the franchise in any significant way. The company enjoys 35 million weekly patrons, and it is clear that many of these frequent visitors were already aware that the ground beef filling in their tacos is not completely beef.
Taco Bell’s low-cost pricing advantage champions over other fast-food chains in the market and it is what keeps customers coming back. However, Taco Bell may face some serious troubles after their aggressive campaigning should the court rule against the company.