January 25th, 2011
11:15 AM ET
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Where's the beef? According to a class action lawsuit filed by the Beasley Allen law firm out of Montgomery, Alabama, it's certainly not in Taco Bell's "taco meat filling."

The "seasoned ground beef" contains less than 35 percent beef - the other 65 percent of the meat-like mixture is: water, 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 (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.

Whew, did you get all that? Oh, there's also caramel color and natural smoke flavor added.

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Filed under: Business and Farming News • Fast Food • Food Politics • News • Taco Bell

soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. Barnum

    My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You cann't imagine just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

    March 2, 2011 at 4:18 am |
  2. Clay

    If you think this is bad you should see the junk the military is served. I once saw a box in the dumpster behind a galley in Guam that said "Rejected from California penal system." The box had contained beef...

    February 8, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  3. Me

    I find it amusing that this is finally out in the open. It's funny that Taco Bell is denying it though. My husband used to work at Taco Bell when he was younger and he told me long before now that the meat isn't even meat. He said that beef was one of the last ingredients on the list. They also get it in these boil bags. It's nasty. It has so much non beef in it that they have to add food coloring to make it LOOK like beef! *BARF*

    January 28, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Aaron

      They're just denying that it's not 35% instead of the required 40%. Why is that so funny? I'm sure Taco Bell's meat has been tested by the FDA and the huge companies know what theyr'e doing better than some customer from Cali that did one test on their taco! : p

      January 29, 2011 at 3:18 am |
    • Jonny

      Your husband is a lying idiot. I too worked at Taco Bell as a kid, as did a friend of mine that managed a Taco Bell inside of a Wal-Mart for a few years. The beef is certainly beef... MOSTLY beef. "Last ingredient"? He told you that and you believed him? Wow. I bet you also believe there's such a thing as "Grade D Beef, not fit for human consumption." Right?

      January 29, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  4. Niki

    I read this article this morning, as a link on a Taco Bell lawsuit coverage page, and was shocked to learn about the cruelty involved with raising animals for food. It was shocking! In fact, it made me want to leave meat out of my diet for good! Only 36% meat taco meat? Why not just drop it altogether and join the growing vegetarian movement.
    Check out this organization's solution to Taco Bell's lawsuit:

    January 27, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  5. Teej

    Just pointing out that the people who say they worked at taco bell are lying when they say they used Grade D Meat, as there's no such thing....The USDA doesn't USE letters to Grade Beef, or any other meat, so, saying its Grade "D" or "F" etc....is something they are making up.

    That said, all the extra fiber is why every one has the runs after their Border Run....I mean, the stuff might not be toxic, but, its CHEAP food.

    The USDA says it has to be 70% beef to say its Beef....not 100%

    The suit says its more like half that.

    If the suit is right, they'll have to change the WORDING to "Beef Flavored" or something like that.

    This would be like "Buttered Popcorn" at the Movie Theater....it was BUTTER way back when, and then margarine, and then "Buttery Topping", and now, "Golden Topping".....

    ....and so forth.

    Its not like any one (Statistically) will eat differently.....the same ingredients every one is "Discovering" are in the "Meat" have been on Taco Bell's web site for anyone to read....including the fiber content, the oats, etc.

    The DIFFERENCE is that the ingredients do NOT have percentages next to them.....and THAT'S the bone of contention, is the PROPORTION.

    People who like TB and/or need explosive diarrhea will still eat there as always.

    People who avoided them will still avoid them.

    The Signs and Ads will change the WORDING, and the "Meat" will stay as pure and wholesome as always.


    January 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Aaron

      I eat Taco Bell all the time and never have the runs from their beef or any of their food. You might want to get that checked out! And Taco Bell knows it is "taco meat filling", not 100% beef. The issue at hand is that the FDA says meat filling must have 40% meat and this customer from Cali is saying they did a test and it came up 35% instead. WHO CARES! And that they're calling it meat in the commercial instead of meat filling. Taco Bell is a hug company. I'm sure they know what they're doing as far as it goes with the law.

      January 29, 2011 at 3:22 am |
  6. Gabe

    If it's not meat, then it should be cheaper... Why are they so stingy with it. >:(

    January 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  7. joe

    I want to sue the Italian government and every Italian restaurant in the USA. You see I just realized many italian meatballs contain over 50% non meat ingredients, such as bread crumbs, onion, green pepper, tomato sauce, milk, and egg, not to mention herbs and spices. How much money can I get for this loose use of the word "meatball", as obviously it's not a "meat" ball at all? Now, with that said, I really would like to sue Taco Bell for discontinuing their delicious green sauce that I have enjoyed since childhood. I cry every time I have to eat a bean burrito with red sauce... ;(

    January 26, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  8. XxSevenSxX

    I haven't had anything from Taco Bell since I discovered Chipotle. Now I can't believe I ever thought a rubbery tortilla filled with bland refried beans tasted good.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  9. Viperfreak2

    So, Taco Bell files a counter-suit. They come out with a statement that says "WE START with 100% beef" Uh, A gas station could START with 100% gasoline in the tank, then add 65% water. Could it still be sold as GASOLINE? The USDA says 70% beef is the lowest that can be called beef, and they aren't even close. Beefy, Beef-like, some Beef content...I do not mind eating oats, but at least follow the rules and tell us what we are eating without a legalized lawyer statement about STARTING with beef.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • VipersRule

      Maybe you should re-read... they start with 100% beef. After adding all the things (which are listed) to make it so delicious, they end up with 88% beef in the final product.

      January 27, 2011 at 6:25 am |
  10. Jonny

    Be more careful with your wording CNN. "The beef containes" paragraph should read "The beef allegedly contains". This is being reported as if the case against Taco Bell has already been won and its been proven that the "beef" is less than 35% beef. Apparently Taco Bell has something to say about this as they've launched a counter-suit.

    January 26, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • Aaron

      It's CNN. Would you expect anything else?

      January 29, 2011 at 3:24 am |
  11. Sankarshan Das Adhikari

    I am awaiting the day when they and all food outlets have 0% meat in their foods.

    January 26, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  12. Atlantic

    All this article & these comments really did is make me want some taco bell... and I never eat there, lol

    January 26, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  13. Celiac

    I have celiac disease and react badly to eating anything with wheat in it. I've known for a long time that Taco Bell's "taco meat" will trigger one of these reactions. Taco meat made without fillers does not.

    January 26, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  14. miche

    I dunno, but when someone markets a product as beef, I would expect it to be beef, not oats. Personally I have nothing against oats as I am a vegetarian or anyone who likes to eat beef or whatever but mislabeling and false advertising is appalling. Shouldn't there be some sort of standard that if you market a product as beef it should contain at minimum 85% beef?

    January 26, 2011 at 5:45 am |
  15. hangedman

    They sell a taco for a dollar and you expect it to have meat in it? Keep dreaming.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:01 am |
  16. rick springdield

    Taco Bueno is always my favorite fast food Mexican. Better yet, in San Diego, LA, Los Vegas, and Florida there is a place called Roberto's. Wow, that's a good taco.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:24 am |
  17. ks

    So does this mean that taco bell is a good source of fiber? They could really score with an older demographic!

    January 25, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  18. A

    It's almost gluten-free. Take the beef away, and it would be vegetarian.

    January 25, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  19. marik7

    I've never eaten at a Taco Bell in my life, but that's ok.

    I can get "meat-like substance" elsewhere.

    January 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  20. Mike

    Interesting story, lab information and lawsuit. The next time that I go to Taco Bell, I am going to ask.., "Where's the beef ?" If I don't get the right information back, including more beef in my taco.., I am going to leave, until Taco Bell puts more beef in their taco's and other food items and stops a commerical that is not true to the consumers. Remember, there are more fast food restaurants that serve taco's and other beef products on their menu, and their menu items have 100% pure american beef in their products, and not served lightly or in small portions. We should all ask Taco Bell.., "Where's the beef ?" Mike

    January 25, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  21. bobby

    You can buy your own beef and taco flavoring at the grocery store.

    Sad that we are paying $$ for stuff that isn't technically food.

    January 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  22. Karen

    So, 65% less cows die for Taco bell and the tacos are still cheap and yummy. That's saying something. As for the myriad other ingredients: so what? Test the highway air you breath driving, the alcoholic beverages you consume, and your food labels at home. Nothing new. I am craving a taco right now....

    January 25, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  23. Valletta

    A friend of mine once told me that he would never eat at a restaurant where the food is cheaper than cat food. Taco Bell was the first to go...

    January 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
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