Published On: Tue, Feb 1st, 2011

What’s In Taco Bell’s “Beef”

taco-bell-beef

What’s In Taco Bell’s “Beef”

Taco Bell doesn’t use beef in their “beef”-based pseudo-Mexican delicacies. They use a gross thing called “Taco Meat Filling” as shown on their big container’s labels—which customers can’t see. The list of ingredients is gruesome:

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.

Oh, and 36% beef. Thirty-six percent—plus all the above making up for the other 64% of the party in your mouth.

According to the USDA, you can’t call this “beef” at all. Beef is defined as “flesh of cattle”. Ground beef is 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.

Which is certainly nothing like what Taco Bell is using in their products. That’s the reason why an Alabama law firm is presenting a lawsuit for false advertising, claiming that what Taco Bell claims is “beef” in their commercials is just the aforementioned processed clustermass of disgust. I’m not a lawyer, but it seems they have a very good point.

The fact is that the containers in which the taco mud arrives to their establishments is labeled as “taco meat filling,” which is exactly how it should be labeled in all advertising and packaging according to the USDA. Of course, new Double Decker with Two Time More Taco Meat Filling doesn’t sound very good.

The irony is that not even if Taco Bell used Taco Meat Filling in their packaging and ads they would be right: The USDA says that any food labeled as “meat taco filling” should at least have 40% fresh meat. According to the Alabama law firm, their stuff only has 36% meat. Perhaps they should call it Almost Taco Meat Filling.

In any case, thank you, Corporate America, for yet another episode of food fun.

Send an email to Jesus Diaz, the original author of this post, at jesus@gizmodo.com.

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