Damage Control – Can Taco Bell Redeem Itself?

For as long as I can recall, I’ve never been a meat eater. Growing up in the middle of farming- and hunting-country USA, this has always been a bit strange for people to understand, but for me, it’s just what I’ve always known. I remember way back in the day, at the dinner table, when I would attempt to trade my chicken to one of my brothers for their peas, corn or carrots. Despite constant teasing and horrified looks from family members, friends and even strangers, there are always times when I’m reminded of how happy I am to be a vegetarian. The latest: Taco Bell.

You’ve probably heard the story and seen the new response ads to the claims being brought forth against Taco Bell (check out the new ad below). The company was recently accused of using fillers and other random junk in its beef mix. Even though it has been vehemently denying the claims and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the new response ad campaign, is it enough to erase the blemish on its name? Before you jump the gun and answer “yes”, think about the following example.

Remember a few years back when a woman claimed she found a finger in her Wendy’s chili? How could you not – the horrifying image of a finger floating in your warm, delicious soup is a hard one to erase from the mind. But do you remember that the claim actually proved to be completely false? Even if you do, were you still somewhat hesitant to grab your next lunch at Wendy’s? And if you could get past the incident enough to go to the restaurant, I’ll bet you thought twice about ordering the chili. So I can’t help but wonder – is Taco Bell in for the same fate?

As an herbivore, I can’t fully understand the impact of these two particular incidents, as I have no desire to eat at either place to being with. But I have to imagine, even if these claims prove to be false, cautious consumers out there may skip their regular lunch or late-night run for the border. Maybe I’m totally off here to assume loyal fans will ever abandon the restaurant and its food, but I’ll tell you this: If my beloved pita restaurant was facing allegations of putting rubber, needles, hair – or worse, actual meat – in the falafel mix, I’d start shopping around for a new lunch destination.

Meat eaters and fast-food lovers, tell me your thoughts. Do you think these allegations have done irreversible damage to the Taco Bell name? Have you stopped eating at Taco Bell because of this recent incident? And what do you think of Taco Bell’s response?