A California woman has sued Taco Bell, in effect reprising a question from a classic 1980s Wendy's commercial - "where's the beef?"

Amanda Obney retained an Alabama law firm to sue the fast food chain, challenging Taco Bell's advertised claim that its restaurants serve "seasoned ground beef" or "seasoned beef" filling in its products. The suit maintains that, in fact, a substantial amount of the Taco Bell filling contains substances other than beef.

The lawsuit seeks to require Taco Bell to properly advertise and label food items, and to engage in a corrective advertising campaign to educate the public about the true content of its food products.

According to standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the meat filling in Taco Bell's products does not meet the minimum standard requirement to be labeled and advertised as "beef," seasoned or otherwise, the complaint alleges.

Taco meat filling

The suit maintains that a substantial majority of the filling is comprised of substances other than beef, and is required to be labeled and advertised as "taco meat filing." Taco meat filling includes ingredients added to increase the volume of the product, such as binders and extenders like "isolated oat product."

"Our government, through the USDA and FDA, provides definitions, standards and labeling guidelines for 'ground beef.' What Taco Bell is representing on their restaurant menu as 'ground beef' does not meet any of those definitions, standards and labeling guidelines," said Dee Miles, an attorney with the firm Beasley Allen, which is representing Obney. "This product does not qualify to be considered 'ground beef' and many of the 'seasoning' ingredients are in fact binders, fillers and coloring."

Miles said the ingredients increase the overall volume of this product, reducing the actual 'beef' content per serving.

"It is against the law in this country to take someone's money for a product that is misrepresented," Miles said. "This lawsuit seeks to put a stop to that type of conduct and practice."

Company responds

Taco Bell issued a statement to WSFA-TV in Montgomery, Ala., saying, "Taco Bell prides itself on serving high quality Mexican inspired food with great value. We're happy that the millions of customers we serve every week agree. We deny our advertising is misleading in any way and we intend to vigorously defend the suit."