Is Taco Bell's beef 'filler' the healthiest thing it sells?
Photo: Like the Grand CanyonAs Grist’s Tom Laskawy reported earlier today, an Alabama law firm is suing Taco Bell in order to force the company to stop labeling the contents of its Crunchy Tacos as “beef.” The firm says their own tests revealed the tacos are only 35 percent beef — the rest is filler! Not the lips and assholes kind, it turns out; the sort made from delicious, nutritious vegetable matter.
Not surprisingly, Taco Bell has called the firm a pack of lying liars, sort of. Here’s the official response, via Ben Goldman at Yum! brands, which include KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and pretty much every other fast food joint that is probably the last thing to spring to mind when you hear “yum!”:
Subject: Statement from Taco Bell
Hello – We saw that you have just run a story about Taco Bell – please update your article using the following statement from Taco Bell. Thank you.
TACO BELL STATEMENT REGARDING CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
“At Taco Bell, we buy our beef from the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket, like Tyson Foods. We start with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef. Then we simmer it in our proprietary blend of seasonings and spices to give our seasoned beef its signature Taco Bell taste and texture. We are proud of the quality of our beef and identify all the seasoning and spice ingredients on our website. Unfortunately, the lawyers in this case elected to sue first and ask questions later — and got their “facts” absolutely wrong. We plan to take legal action for the false statements being made about our food.”
President and Chief Concept Officer
Taco Bell Corp.
Let’s look up Taco Bell’s definition of “seasonings,” shall we? From Tacobell.com:
SEASONED GROUND BEEF
Beef, Water, Seasoning [Isolated Oat Product, Salt, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Tomato Powder, Oats (Wheat), Soy Lecithin, Sugar, Spices, Maltodextrin, Soybean Oil (Anti-dusting Agent), Garlic Powder, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Cocoa Powder (Processed With Alkali), Silicon Dioxide, Natural Flavors, Yeast, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Smoke Flavor], Salt, Sodium Phosphates. CONTAINS SOYBEAN, WHEAT [Emphasis mine.]
So basically, Taco Bell “starts with” beef and then adds a bunch of crap that is identified by name. And that’s their defense against a suit claiming that there’s a bunch of crap in the tacos besides beef. O-kay.
Also: Tyson? As if Tyson is trustworthy.
Seriously, the most surprising thing here is that Taco Bell has yet to make oat-related health claims based on this mix of ingredients. If the list is correct, the average Taco Bell crunchy taco could give your bowl of Wilford Brimley-approved instant breakfast cereal a run for its money in terms of fiber content.
- Taco Bell ‘beef’: mostly not beef
- Tom Philpott takes a look at the other strange substances Taco Bell serves up