Daily Archives: January 27, 2011

Pros and Cons: Football Players Who Commit Sexual Assault

Tuesday night, during the State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair.”

I’ll be honest and begin by saying that I couldn’t care less who wins the Super Bowl. As a former Clevelander, I would love it if the disastrously terrible Browns were to take the title, but only so the city can feel good. They have harsh winters, loads of unemployment, and bad sports teams. They could use the lift.

In any case, the Browns haven’t made it to the Super Bowl. The teams who have made it, though, both have players who have faced sexual assault allegations.

I’m guessing you’ve heard of the Ben Roethlisberger sexual assault scandal.

However, the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t the only ones with sexual assault charges in their pasts. Last summer, two women called the police to a resort in Wisconsin, alleging that several Green Bay Packers held them down and sexually assaulted them. Linebackers Brad Jones and Clay Matthews, guard Josh Sitton, safety Khalil Jones, fullback Korey Hall, and quarterback Matt Flynn were cleared of charges after the women changed their stories. Brandon Underwood, however, is currently under investigation.

You may be surprised, like I was, to find out the number of allegations of sexual assault against the players in this year’s Super Bowl. Apparently, though, this kind of criminal activity is just par for the course. (Please excuse a golf analogy in an article about football.) A 1998 study, Pros And Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, announced that more than one in five (21%!) NFL players has been accused of at least one crime.

Although we haven’t heard about a lot of these crimes, many of them have made the news. Last year, Lawrence Taylor (a two-time Super Bowl champ from the New York Giants) was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in a New York hotel. He pled guilty to much lesser charges, solicitation of a minor, and will have to register as a sex offender.

In 2009, David Meggett (former Super Bowl Champion and two-time Pro Bowler) was found guilty of rape and received a 30-year prison sentence. It was his second sexual assault charge.

In 2007, Michael Irvin (former wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys) was accused of rape.

Eric Green (former Arizona Cardinal) was sued by a transgender woman who claims he raped her in 2009.

While we can’t assume that all of the men mentioned in the article above are guilty of crimes, I think we can all see a disturbing trend. Rape is a depressingly underreported crime, and with the media that surrounds football players, accusers are probably even less likely to bring charges to a conclusion. It might be a failure of our criminal justice system that people who have committed sexual assault face no jail time, but it’s also a failure of our own personal standards when we glorify these men. When the Super Bowl finally showcases two teams with clean sexual assault records, then I’ll be watching. Until then, I’ll just have to check out the good commercials online.

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Taco Bell’s Beef

Beef Cuts - Where They Come From

Image via Wikipedia

You’ve probably heard by now that Taco Bell is being sued because its beef isn’t really beef. In fact, the “beef” is made of a mixture called “Taco Meat Filling.” Here are the ingredients:

Beef, water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.

It really doesn’t look that out of the ordinary to me (but I don’t eat meat, so what do I know?). According to an Alabama law firm, however, only 36% of the mixture is beef. The firm alleges that the other 64% is additives, flavoring, and coloring.

The firm is presenting a class action for false advertising. The claimants are not asking for any money; they’re just asking for a correction.

Under USDA rules, any product called “beef” must be “flesh of cattle.” “Ground beef” is likewise defined as

Chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.

The law firm claims that 64% of the mixture is additives, and the law requires no more than 30% of a meat mixture to be additives. Even food labeled “meat taco filling” should be at least 40% meat under USDA guidelines. So what’s the next level below “meat taco filling”? I don’t think I want to know.

If the law firm’s claim is accurate, they have a great case because calling a beef mixture “beef” may lead consumers to believe that they’re eating one thing when they’re eating something else. If it’s labeled “beef” and advertised as beef, then it must be beef. Consumers have the right to know what they’re eating… even when it comes from Taco Bell.

That said, even if the law firm is correct, there is nothing wrong with the mixture that they’re selling. Sure, it’s processed, but it’s not exactly like you’re heading to Taco Bell thinking you’re going to be eating only the finest. In fact, it’s a lot of oat, wheat and soy, so it’s probably even healthier it would be were the mixture just beef.

Taco Bell has responded with a pretty detailed breakdown of its beef taco filling.

This is the statement that was provided by a Taco Bell representative:

UPDATED STATEMENT REGARDING CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT

“The lawsuit is bogus and filled with completely inaccurate facts. Our beef is 100% USDA inspected, just like the quality beef you would buy in a supermarket and prepare in your home. It then is slow-cooked and simmered with proprietary seasonings and spices to provide Taco Bell’s signature taste and texture. Our seasoned beef recipe contains 88% quality USDA-inspected beef and 12% seasonings, spices, water and other ingredients that provide taste, texture and moisture. The lawyers got their facts wrong. We take this attack on our quality very seriously and plan to take legal action against them for making false statements about our products. There is no basis in fact or reality for this suit and we will vigorously defend the quality of our products from frivolous and misleading claims such as this.”

What is in Taco Bell’s recipe for seasoned beef?

“We’re cooking with a proprietary recipe to give our seasoned beef flavor and texture, just like you would with any recipe you cook at home.

For example, when you make chili, meatloaf or meatballs, you add your own recipe of seasoning and spices to give the beef flavor and texture, otherwise, it would taste just like unseasoned ground beef. We do the same thing with our recipe for seasoned beef.

Our recipe for seasoned beef includes ingredients you’d find in your home or in the supermarket aisle today:

  • 88% USDA-inspected quality beef
  • 3-5% water for moisture
  • 3-5% spices (including salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, sugar, garlic powder, cocoa powder and a proprietary blend of Mexican spices and natural flavors).
  • 3-5% oats, starch, sugar, yeast, citric acid, and other ingredients that contribute to the quality of our product.

Our seasoned beef contains no “extenders” to add volume, as some might use. For more information about our ingredients go to http://www.tacobell.com.”

Greg Creed
President and Chief Concept Officer
Taco Bell Corp.

Frankly, it’s hard to argue with Taco Bell here. We all know that ingredients on packaging is in descending order, from the ingredient that makes up the greatest to least volume. If beef is only 36% of the final product, then we’re expected to believe that 64% of the filling is spices and fillers? If 64% of the meat filling were made up of salt, sugar, and spices, wouldn’t the beef tacos be nearly impossible to eat – or wouldn’t it be just like eating ground spices with little bits of beef here and there? I think this point goes to the Bell.

Via Gizmodo.

UPDATE: Taco Bell has written a full-page ad thanking the law firm for suing. Check it out here.

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