File This Under GROSS: Taco Bell’s “Seasoned Beef”

By Katie, 5:23 am

Have you heard about the latest fast food scandal?

Taco Bell is being sued for false advertising. Apparently some lawyers did some testing, and the “seasoned beef” in many of the fast food chain’s products isn’t really beef at all, or at least not entirely; the results indicate that less than 35% of the meat mixture is actually “beef.” According to the lawyers, the existence of so many binders and fillers means that the product doesn’t even meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s minimum requirements for a product to be labeled as “beef.” (Kind of sad that the government needs to define what is and is not food, huh?)

So what are those binders and fillers? Apparently water, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent and modified corn starch – yummy! :roll:

Of course, Taco Bell claims that the lawyers “got their facts wrong” and that the allegations are unfounded. Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it because 1) it makes sense that they would use lots of fillers in order to cut costs and increase profits, and 2) the lawyers aren’t even asking for money, just that “Taco Bell be honest in its advertising.” (I realize that act of kindness is mostly marketing for the law firm, but still!)

I’m always torn over stuff like this, and here’s why. In order for me to prevent an episode of overeating, it’s important that I incorporate all foods into my diet, so that no food is labeled “off-limits.” That might even mean fast food every now and then, and I know it isn’t going to kill me. But on the other hand, I find this particular situation downright gross I know for a fact that my body feels better when I feed it actual meat rather than a “meat product.”

And that’s the beauty of Intuitive Eating. There’s no plan that forces me to eat something or to avoid something completely. There’s no rule that says I can’t go to Taco Bell, but there’s also no rule that says I have to. The power to decide what goes into my body is completely mine.

Have you heard of the Taco Bell lawsuit? What do you think about it?

43 Responses to “File This Under GROSS: Taco Bell’s “Seasoned Beef””

  1. Sarah says:

    I hadn’t heard of it, but, I really haven’t been a fan of Taco Bell (or eaten there) for quite some time. I remember really liking the hot sauce, but I could take or leave everything else. When I pay attention to what I (and the rest of my body) really want, it’s almost never fast food. If it is, it’s something like Chipotle. (Ooh, now Chipotle? I could eat there every week.)

  2. Karen says:

    I had heard of the lawsuit against Taco Bell. While the list of ingredients in their “meat” completely grosses me out, I’m really not surprised that the “meat” isn’t actually meat. The retail price on their product is so low and the cost to make their food must be even lower. With costs that low it’s almost going to guarantee poor quality ingredients.

    When dining at fast food establishments, which I very rarely do, I tend to stick to vegetarian options to ensure better quality food goes in my body!

  3. I hadn’t heard of it…but I’m glad you enlightened me, because that really is downright gross. I guess I’m not really surprised, though. There’s go to be some way they can afford to profit at selling those things for hardly more than $1, right? It’s almost strange that this is the only fast food chain that is having a lawsuit brought against them…I guess I’m a little surprised that McDonalds/Burger King isn’t the same way!

  4. I hadn’t heard of it but that is really disturbing. Not a fan of meat fillers and it makes sense to me. Taco Bell is gross in my opinion anyways. I’ve never really been a fan.

    Love your final part about what defines intuitive eating. I just finished writing my post for this morning and yet again we touch on something similar.

  5. Yep, I was listening to a segment on that on the way to work yesterday. No bueno, Taco Bell, no bueno. Of course when you grab fast food you can’t be expecting quality on par with the Whole Foods hot bar, but I certainly wouldn’t be expecting my beef to have such a high content of filler and other stuff. This is something that the public needs to consider when making their food choices, and if they’re down with the unidentified meat filling, then by all means, let ‘em at it!

  6. When I heard about this I was SO happy that I don’t eat Taco Bell. That I don’t eat fast food! It’s seriously disgusting and I don’t know how these people, who run these companies, this it’s okay to feed people this nastiness! The thing that really grossed me out was yesterday at work I overheard a conversation about this and one woman said “even though this is really disgusting, it doesn’t make it any less tasty.” What?? Yes it does! Just knowing this makes it so unappealing to me. Even more so than it already was. I’m so glad someone called them out on it.

  7. Runblondie26 says:

    Ugh, this makes me think of machanically seperated chicken and why I could never eat another chicken nugget again either.

  8. Julie says:

    Ew! It’s disgusting what they want to shove down our throats disguised as real food. I’m all for calling it a “food product” and not real food at all.

    That’s one great reason for restaurants to make available not only the nutritional information of all they serve, but also all the ingredients – we get that with stuff sold on markets, so why not on restaurants too? You can never tell just by looking if what you’re ordering doesn’t have enough salt and calories for a whole day, fat for at least three people and is made of unpronounceable chemicals from outer space.

    Maltodextrin? Anti-dusting agent? Fast food grosses me out. It’s a total disrespect with our bodies, and that usually goes hand in hand with abusive treatment of employees and acquiring meat from places with extra cruelty (constrained livestock, anyone?). And honestly it just doesn’t taste good – as soon as you start eating “cleaner”, those products become unbearable. Your body revolts against it, like it should, and so do all your senses.

    • Katie says:

      I’m so glad you brought up the fact that the consumers aren’t the only ones hurt by this sort of thing; I completely agree that it’s usually a sign of other issues like animal cruelty and worker injustice.

  9. Shannon says:

    I wasn’t aware of the lawsuit, but years ago I had been told that Taco Bell’s meat was mainly wheat, and not meat at all. Honestly though, it really isn’t that shocking if you think about their prices. $0.99 for a 1/2 lb burrito (not sure of the actual price, but they’re cheap)? Come on now, something has to give in that equation!

    I agree completely with your last point. Nothing says you can’t eat it if you want to, but nothing says you have to, either. I’d opt for Moe’s anyway. I haven’t had Taco Bell in years, but I remember every single thing tasting the same–no matter if it was a new item or had been on the menu for years!

    And one more thing, while we’re on the topic of fast food, I was also told that Wendy’s Frosty’s are actually mayo based. Strange? Yes, but so is beef being wheat. I don’t have any actual way of proving that, though–just a rumor!

    • Katie says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true! Blech!

    • MK says:

      Wendy’s Frosties are milk-based. “Medium Frosty™
      Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Cream, Whey, Nonfat Dry Milk, Cocoa (processed with alkali), Guar Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, Cellulose Gum, Carrageenan, Calcium Sulfate, Disodium Phosphate, Artificial and Natural Flavoring, Vitamin A Palmitate. CONTAINS: MILK.” from the wendys.com website.

      IMO, one of the best things about the internet is the easy availability of nutrition and ingredient information. I think this is spurred more by a corporate fear of food allergies (and as someone with food sensitivities, I appreciate this), but it’s useful to anyone interested in knowing what they’re eating.

      As for the lawsuit, I’d heard of it. I haven’t eaten Taco Bell in years because I didn’t like their food; I can’t say it surprises me. Sometimes I do want fast food and then I eat it. So long as I use my head and remember that I’m not used to eating processed food, so I’m reasonable about portions, it tastes good, satisfies that craving, and doesn’t make me feel ill.

  10. “There’s no rule that says I can’t go to Taco Bell, but there’s also no rule that says I have to.”

    I like this. Until about a year or two ago, I spent 6+ years in recovery forgetting the 2nd part of this sentence, even thinking I had to eat certain things I didn’t like or it was “eating disordered”. I still struggle with this ALL the time, but am working so hard on empowering myself that that isn’t true. For instance, I HATE dark chocolate, but I love white chocolate. Why is that wrong? I don’t like to eat dairy because it makes me sick. But I will eat 5 handfuls of tortilla chips for dinner when I am sad and nothing else sounds appealing. The more I just let everything be okay, and know that it all balances out from day to day, the better I feel and the better I do at recovery.

    • Katie says:

      YES! I’ve also struggled with this. If I don’t feel like dessert, does that mean I’m struggling with ED? If I want to order a salad at a restaurant, is that my decision or is it coming from my disordered thoughts? It’s something I’m continuing to work on!

  11. Oh also, if it truly makes you gag to think about eating something, you can take that as a sign that you aren’t at risk of denying yourself anything. ;) This made me gag for sure when I saw it on the news last night!

  12. Becca says:

    It’s a prime example of why voting with your dollar is so important. McDonalds in the UK only use 100% breast meat in chicken nuggets due to customer pressure. All our supermarkets stock organic ranges. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of people who would rather eat things like “anti-dusting agent” (WTF?) just so that they can save a bit of money.

    It drives me crazy when they say things like “my Grandma didn’t care about stuff like that and she lived to 104″. Um… That’s because they didn’t have so much weird stuff in food throughout most of her life! She ate meat, vegetables and grains, not processed food.

    With regard to the government involvement, I say bring on the regulation. People have the right to the truth about what’s in their food.

    • Katie says:

      I totally agree about voting with our wallets. They want to sell stuff, so they’re not going to change until the consumers pressure them to!

  13. Stephanie says:

    I heard about this yesterday, and all I could think of was a comment made about 4 years ago or longer – almost all of Taco Bell’s food is of the “add water and stir” variety. It makes me feel even better about making my own enchiladas yesterday, even if they weren’t pretty.

  14. Like everyone else said, you can’t expect quality for that little money.

    At the same time though, we have been eating it all along!

    Believe me, taco bell isn’t the only one that has these kinds of problems . . . There is a lot of processed supermarket food with a lot of the same ingredients.

    I know it’s gross but if I was honestly craving a taco, I’d be better off in the long run eating gross beef than setting myself up for a binge.

  15. Bonnie says:

    This morning, I heard a news story about “Obesogens,” chemicals in products that “cause” obesity. No mention of diet, exercise, or anything like this were mentioned. While I think the chemicals in packaging and products are a completely separate issue, I also think the rampant obesity in our culture would be lessened if the easy to access and “tasty” foods were also healthier. I work with a demographic that doesn’t cook often, and mostly eats fast food – it’s their reality. When they see me eating vegetables, they actually judge me! This demographic also tends to have a higher level of diabetes, heart disease, etc., but imagine how much better off these people would be if the food they had the most access to (or easiest access) was just food – not all the weird fillers.

  16. Yeah, this is pretty disgusting. I had always heard their meat was Grade E or something liket hat…but I never really knew that meant.

    Sadly, this won’t stop me from eating their. I enjoy Taco Bell (like 2 times a year) and sometimes just get that random craving. I grew up on enchiritos (Sadly) and sometimes still enjoy them.

    • Katie says:

      There’s a lot of “crap” out there that I still enjoy every once and awhile, and I actually think that’s healthier for me than never honoring my cravings and eventually bingeing.

  17. that is just gross! i agree with you- i like to be able to allow myself something like fast food sometimes, but i don’t even want to stomach that!

  18. As soon as I an article online about the lawsuit I e-mailed the link to my husband. He e-mailed me back saying the first ingredient is beef and he still wishes there was a taco bell where we live. I had to clarify the percentage of beef in the mix (wasn’t it in the low thirties?), he still said he would eat it.

    Truthfully, I probably would too. Only, I would be on vacation someplace where there was a taco bell (or a Wendys or some other fast food joint that isn’t in business where I live) and I would do so knowing I would be going home and eating “real” food soon.

    Man, I’m now really glad we don’t have a taco bell here. At least when I grab a taco from the local fast food joint, I know there has to be more beef than filler in the taco!

    • Katie says:

      Yeah, I certainly eat stuff that I know is “crap” every now and then, because that’s actually healthier for me if I’m craving it (as opposed to denying myself and then bingeing later on). A little bit of that stuff isn’t going to hurt me, especially if – like you said – I know I’ll be back to eating real food soon!

  19. Lisa says:

    Did we ever have any doubt that Taco Bell was unhealthy and that the beef was “iffy”?? I never doubted it!

  20. Leslie says:

    I’ve had my fair share of processed food (and yep, I used to chow down on a delicious TB Gordita every now and then), but am mending my ways. I hope this type of headline makes people think before eating processed food both in the grocery store and at fast food restaurants.

    One thing that strikes me is that we have no idea what the health ramifications of eating industrial “food” are for our bodies. Most of us wouldn’t dream of guzzling down a handful of unknown pills–one could argue that eating obscure food additives isn’t totally a different beast.

    Ew indeed.

  21. I did hear about this, and it didn’t surprise me at all. To be honest, I can’t believe anyone thought the beef was of any good quality at all to begin with…I mean, they sell stuff for a dollar! That kind of food is what makes people say that fresh and/or organic foods are expensive. They really aren’t. They represent the actual price of quality foods…and Taco Bell represents a compromised, far-too-low price. I’m a little sour on Taco Bell anyway. Back in the 80s, my mom contracted a parasite from Taco Bell and nearly died. I haven’t eaten there in 25 years!

  22. christina says:

    i just read about that. so gross!

  23. Kelly says:

    I heard an interview with the lawyers representing the prosecution on NPR and find this very interesting. I’m so glad someone decided to call a fast food chain out on their substandard food.

  24. Tamara says:

    I actually don’t think the list of fillers is gross or disgusting, because they’re the same ones you would see on any package of granola bars you picked off of the grocery store shelf. They may /sound/ disgusting because they have chemical-like names, but if you break it down it just reads: water, starch, plant fats, sweetener, soy bean oil (the “anti-dusting agent”), and more starch. Nothing deadly or even weird-looking…if they were going to kick a fuss they could at least have found some insects or ground-up intestines in there for a good shock.

    Yes, it isn’t /meat/, but the same things are probably in those soft tortillas and crunchy shells, the hamburger buns at Burger King and the box of Pop Tarts in every American cupboard. Do you really expect to eat whole, natural foods when you go through the drive thru?

    • Katie says:

      Absolutely not, nor do I expect it when I pick up a box of Pop Tarts or anything like that. But I’m not sure the average American gives too much thought to this sort of thing in the first place. The publicity surrounding high profile lawsuits like this brings it to light to a much wider population, I think.

  25. I hadn’t heard about Taco Bell’s Lawsuit. That is SO disgusting! It is so sad what manufacturers are drowning our food in nowadays. :( Honesty is the best policy. I #1) don’t like the fact that they are lying to everyone and deceiving the public and #2) that they pump our food with all of these nasty substances. They should at least tell the truth!
    Thank you for informing post! :)

  26. Blegh! I heard about this – so gross.
    By the way, how are you doing with all the snow? I don’t miss Baltimore for this reason but have been thinking about you!!

    • Katie says:

      You are so sweet! It’s been a major pain in the butt, but my office did close yesterday, so I can’t complain too much!!! I hope you are doing well! :)

  27. Sarah S says:

    Hello Allwanted to stop to say Hello Everyone. back to handguns for sale

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