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Posted at 12:55 PM ET, 01/25/2011

Taco Bell meat not actually meat, law firm says (and if you've ever eaten it, you already knew that)

By Melissa Bell
taco bell meat
(Ric Francis/AP)

Ah, that sweet, delightful Taco Bell meat ... stuff. An Alabama law firm has decided to sue Taco Bell for false advertising when advertisements say their food has beef. Taco Bell uses a "taco meat filling" made up of a whole slew of chemicals and starches and powders and only 36 percent of beef.

Gizmodo reports:

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.

Taco Bell categorically denies the lawsuit, saying in a statement:

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.

As a longtime eater of Taco Bell food products, I can categorically state that if you've ever had any Taco Bell food product, this news is wholly unsurprising. Delicious? Yes. Real food? No. It's just a tiny fib we diners of Taco Bell tell ourselves to make us feel slightly less ashamed that we're addicted to meat paste. Or almost meat paste. Who's hungry?

By Melissa Bell  | January 25, 2011; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Comments

And how much of the meat has been treated with ammonia?

Posted by: yellojkt | January 25, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

That's utter crap. I worked for Taco Bell for years, and the only thing that went into the meat was 10 pounds of meat (beef!) and a 10 oz packet of spices.

Posted by: iridar | January 25, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Maybe less beef is a good thing.
Consider the alternative.
Most fast food beef is created out of the trimmings and detritus shipped from slaughterhouses around the country and has to be put through a pathogen killing process to get it clean enough to eat.
Fake Beef in Taco Ball Tacos. Why all the fuss?
http://gigabiting.com/?p=7413/

Posted by: Gigabiting | January 25, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

' ... and got their "facts" absolutely wrong. We plan to take legal action for the false statements being made about our food. '

I take it you didn't read that part of their statement before stating that what they serve is not real food?

Posted by: isthatallthereis | January 25, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

"As a onetime eater of Taco Bell food products, I can categorically state that if you've ever had any Taco Bell food product, this news is wholly unsurprising. Delicious? Yes. Real food? No. It's just a tiny fib we diners of Taco Bell tell ourselves to make us feel slightly less ashamed that we're addicted to meat paste. Or almost meat paste. Who's hungry?"

If this isn't true, you're committing libel. Be careful when making such allegations, and I hope you keep your job. This is the Washington Post, not some web forum, and you obviously aren't cloaked in anonymity here.

Posted by: arm3 | January 25, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse


Taco Bell's beef-like filling is Solient Green.


Posted by: SCOTTSCHMIDTT | January 25, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I am not really sure i care what's in their food...i love the stuff.
Matter of fact, i think i'm gonna do a Taco Bell dinner !

Posted by: JONJJ | January 25, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Newsflash iridar:

That meat you were putting into the tacos wasn't 100% meat. It was at best 40% fresh meat. Read the article. The rest was not fresh and combined with soy and other fillers. Yes, it looked like meat to you. If it didn't, they couldn't trick people into buying it.

But this is nothing criminal on Taco Bell's part. Most food chains do this to varying degrees. The government allows them to do this.

Posted by: lordtwang | January 25, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

for the prices you pay at taco bell, i think they are great. you are not at a 5-star restaurant and the food is tasty! i only wish there was one closer to my work.

Posted by: astroman215aolcom | January 25, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

This makes me hungry. I'm going to Taco Bell for dinner!

Posted by: getjiggly1 | January 25, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

This is why food transparency is more necessary and websites like Food Sprout are important. Clearly USDA isn't going to do anything about it.

Posted by: randomwalk2 | January 25, 2011 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Taco Bell can sell whatever the heck it wants...just don't call it "Ground Beef" when it isnt.

Posted by: MarcMyWords | January 25, 2011 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Gizmodo has a picture of the list of ingredients on a bag of taco bell meat:

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.

Also, this is like the third or fourth story I've skimmed about this. They all mentioned the USDA rule but I really wish at least one of them would link to the reg so I can read it.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | January 25, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse


One day, when you’re sitting on the toilet don’t be surprised as you tend to mother nature that a tailgate from a Chevy Chase coated in maltodextrin and sodium phosphates comes oozing down the tile floor. Because if it does- you’ll be glad you found it at Taco Bell.

Shouldn’t you order a beef “TACO BELL” soon?

http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2011/01/taco-bell-wants-to-tell-you-that-it-doesnt-entirely-use-beef-in-their-tacos/

Posted by: zoezoe123 | January 26, 2011 7:19 AM | Report abuse


One day, when you’re sitting on the toilet don’t be surprised as you tend to mother nature that a tailgate from a Chevy Chase coated in maltodextrin and sodium phosphates comes oozing down the tile floor. Because if it does- you’ll be glad you found it at Taco Bell.

Shouldn’t you order a beef “TACO BELL” soon?

http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2011/01/taco-bell-wants-to-tell-you-that-it-doesnt-entirely-use-beef-in-their-tacos/

Posted by: zoezoe123 | January 26, 2011 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, @Booyah5000! I added a link.

Posted by: Melissa Bell | January 26, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

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