Fake Beef in Taco Ball Tacos. Why all the fuss?

A class action lawsuit was filed in federal court alleging that Taco Bell misleads its customers.

The lawsuit challenges Taco Bell’s practice of representing to consumers, on menus and in advertisements, that its restaurants serve beef-filled tacos and burritos. The lawsuit seeks to require Taco Bell to properly advertise and label food items, and to engage in a corrective advertising campaign to educate the public about what’s really in its food.

It seems that the filling in Taco Bell tacos and burritos contains just 36% beef, falling too far below the USDA definition to call itself ‘beef.’ According to the lawsuit, the other 64% of the filling is rounded out with water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch, sodium phosphate, and seasonings.

I don’t quite know what to make of the anti-dusting agent. I’ll just take it on faith that its presence spares us from a vexing dust issue. Other than that, maybe the lack of beef is not such a bad thing.

Consider the alternative.

Most fast food beef begins its voyage to your local franchise at a single meat processor, Beef Products, Inc. of South Dakota (McDonalds and Burger King are both customers; Taco Bell is not). Beef Products specializes in creating a beef product out of the trimmings and detritus shipped to them from slaughterhouses around the country. This marginal and untraceable meat is apt to contain E. coli and salmonella (big surprise), so Beef Products puts its beef product through a pathogen killing process to get it clean enough to eat.

Beef Products’ cleaning agent of choice is ammonia, just like you use to clean your bathroom, which makes perfect sense considering the nature of the bacteria you’re after in both cases. Of course when you scrub out your toilet, the cleaning product cautions you to handle it with rubber gloves, avoid contact with your skin, and to seek immediate medical attention if it’s ingested. The USDA allows Beef Products to treat ammonia as a ‘processing agent,’ so it isn’t disclosed as an ingredient in its beef product, or as an ingredient in a fast food hamburger. Anti-dusting agent is starting to sound pretty benign.

100% ammonia-treated beef product or 64% filler. Maybe less beef is a good thing.

Alabama law firm Beasely Allen has released a press release detailing its consumer rights class action. In it you’ll find details about the lawsuit and a a link to the complaint.


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5 Responses to Fake Beef in Taco Ball Tacos. Why all the fuss?

  1. whitetiger says:

    When cooked, theres is no trace of ammonia left and you”re actually eating clean food. No ones forcing anyone to eat fastfood, or Tacobell for that matter. Clearly, it is by choice when one heads to their local Tacobell to eat this terrible food! If you dont like what Tacobell is doing then DON’T EAT THERE. Because as far as I’m concerned, they have created millions of happy customers and none have died up to this point. Plus, Tacobells terrible meat quality has never been a secret nor have they advertised that it’s healthy. Take note, that it IS ACTUALLY BEEF, and HAS REAL MEAT. If there ever really was a serious problem with their meat, the USDA would not even allow it on the market. So quit whining. Noone cares. Im going to Tacebell.

  2. Only more disgusting than fast food is what they’ve done to our nation. But what a topic! I agree with Realman that case is based on false advertising and Taco Bell is guilty. Corporate farmed soy isn’t much better although many mistakenly believe it’s a benign choice. (Pesticides! Fertilizers! Amazon deforestation! All in one healthy soy bite!) As for Beef Products, Inc. Sigh. It’s so wrong at every level it’s difficult to comprehend.
    Side story: In the 80s our neighbor owned several Taco bell franchises. He sold them all and started a place that was the complete opposite of TB called Mission Burger: all natural and fresh and local. He also tried to carry the concept into true healthy fast food in a place called Swift. Went bankrupt. Many Americans want cheap, easy food and are willing to pay for it with their health, community, and future.

  3. Realman1000000000000 says:

    The problem isn’t how much beef is in their product. The complaint is that the ADVERTISING is FALSE. It’s not “Seasoned Ground Beef” it’s “Taco Meat Filler”. As a consumer I DEMAND that companies TELL me what I am eating and not MISLEAD me with their advertising.

  4. Monet says:

    This is why I never eat fast food.

  5. pup says:

    After reading this all I can say is “ew” to fast food….

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