Where’s the Beef? The Taco Bell Controversy

An Alabama law firm claims in a lawsuit that Taco Bell uses false advertising by calling it’s beef, well… beef.


The meat mixture sold by Taco Bell restaurants contains binders and extenders and does not meet the minimum requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled as “beef,” according to the legal complaint.

Attorney Dee Miles said attorneys had Taco Bell’s “meat mixture” tested and found it contained less that 35 percent beef.

Miles said the lawsuit does not seek monetary damages, but asks the court to order Taco Bell to be honest in its advertising.

“We are asking that they stop saying that they are selling beef,” Miles said.

The Taco Bell response:

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.

Greg Creed
President and Chief Concept Officer
Taco Bell Corp.

The Ryan from GrubGrade response:

I’ve kinda just accepted the fact that I have no clue what I’m really ingesting anymore.  I could spend a lot of time reading labels and pretending to know what I’m looking at… or I can just give in to the fact that anything and everything I do is somehow slowly killing me anyways.  Sure, I’d rather have some real food over filler, but 9 times out of 10 I’m taking the ostrich approach.  I’m the kind of person that could shop at an organic market in the morning and swing by a fast food joint later that day.  Go figure.  Do I care, if in fact, Taco Bell beef is only 35% beef?  Well, I normally get chicken everything at Taco Bell… but still, yeah I guess I’d like my “meat mixture” to be more meat than not (going by the lawsuit claim).  Hmmm, what % chicken is the chicken I’m eating?  I’m sure chicken is harmful too?  And the gummy bears I just ate?  And this laptop I’m typing on?  And my cell phone?  And the water I’m drinking?  Carcinogens everywhere!

17 comments on “Where’s the Beef? The Taco Bell Controversy

  1. Chefprotoss or dan says:

    I’ll still eat it, but if it isn’t beef don’t call it that. We as consumers have every right to know what kind of garbage we are ingesting no matter how delicious it is. People wouldn’t smoke crack if it wasn’t fun and I will still cram cheesy gordita crunches down my gullet with ease. Everyone has to pay the piper. That means taco bell as well.

  2. Shannon says:

    That’s funny. I didn’t know that ostriches actually did that. To me it was just a cartoon memory. I’m with you on the endless supply of info we get about the foods we eat. Sometimes it gets to be a bit overwhelming and at times conflicting. When money is involved, there is no telling what we human beings will do.

    • Ryan says:

      Haha, I’m pretty sure ostriches do not actually put their head in the sand. Photoshopped. 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      “Ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand. This tale originates from the fact that the male ostrich will dig a large hole (up to 6 to 8 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet deep) in the sand for the eggs. … All birds turn their eggs (with their beak) several times a day during the incubation period. From a distance it may appear as though the bird has its head in the sand.”

    • Shannon says:

      Thanks guys. I get the point. I know that only through technology do ostriches bury their heads in the sand. Thanks Ryan for reminding of my childhood.

  3. Adam Bomb says:

    Their beef does have silicon dioxide in it, which is pretty much sand. I read it on Taco Bell’s official website. Why does that need to be in there?

    • Evan says:

      Silicon Dioxide is a flow agent, it keeps things from getting clumped in powdered form – so whatever their proprietary blend of seasonings is, it comes in a powder form first and has SiO2 to prevent it from caking and clumping.

  4. tom h says:

    I’ve always gone along with the thought that I’m eating less than stellar beef at taco bell – i.e. poor cuts of meat in a quality of ground beef I’d never buy at the store if I was making my own tacos. But 30 some percent meat?!?! It truly turns me off.

    Shoot, I honestly don’t so much mind the oat product (yay less fat!) and sand (anti-caking). I’ve experimented cooking with ‘veggie crumbles,’ and frankly think I’d prefer beef-touched oats to them.

    • Justin ST says:

      I’m done with Taco Bell. God knows what is in the chicken and steak too. I’ve always suspected it wasn’t made up of real meat. Now I know. In Canada, the meat and eggs I eat at fast food restaurants always tastes real. It tastes different. Something is wrong with American fast food meats.

  5. DHL says:

    I will now classify Taco Bell meat filling as a health food since it has Wheat Oats. Which means it is off my list of things I will consume… Who wants to eat anything healthy from a fast food restaurant? lol

  6. Justin ST says:

    The opposition’s response…

    No way, I do care about what I’m ingesting, especially when the beef in an item makes up 36% of it! Try eating a real beef taco from a Mexican place sometime. It tastes nothing like Taco Bell’s. While I never really had a problem with the beef, I want nothing to do with Taco Bell. I don’t even know how much of the chicken and steak are real meat now. The chicken was recently “changed.” I was of the opinion that it had more filler, but I didn’t want to believe it. I just felt it had to be real chicken. I didn’t think the government would allow the meat we eat to be messed with like this.

    I think I will be eating at home more now. I will get tacos from my neighborhood Mexican restaurants, where I know I will be eating real meat. I know Taco Bell will have to act fast, but if they don’t, this company could be going from hero to zero almost literally overnight.

  7. i agree with the ‘head in the sand’ outlook for the most part. i will eat whatever. i love the way taco bell’s crap tastes, and finding out that it’s not exactly what i thought it was would not change that fact. i do think there is something to be said for proper representation of a product, and things should be labeled as they are, but honestly what do you expect from fast food businesses? it’s just that – a big business.

  8. J.B. says:

    I always called it dog food and refused to eat that particular “meat” from Taco Bell and I am glad to see that I was correct.

    The rest of the actual “real meat” is probably procured via a process called AMR or Advanced Meat Recovery.
    If you don’t know what that is, Google it or Wiki it and you will not want to eat fast food meat ever again.

  9. mattitude says:

    Who cares…we are all gonna die sometime,I mean when your number is up it’s up,and I will go out with Taco Bell on flames!!!

  10. Eric P. says:

    Glad someone’s doing these tests!! … as for ostriches, they do stick their head in the sand. They think they are safe when they are being attacked hence the motto taking the ostrich approach lol

  11. karen says:

    What is so sad is that 20 something years ago (ugh I am aging myself) my first job was at Taco Bell – and I was a prep cook – I went in every morning and put on a pressure cooker full of real beans, cooked real meat – mixed the spices to put in the meat, made the pico de gallo fresh from the fridge, chopped tomatoes and onions, shredded lettuce and even grated the cheese on the huge cheese grater. My coworker took fresh corn tortillas and fried them for taco and tostada shells –

    About 5 years ago I went back for some extra dough – the beans are powdered – you add water, the meat precooked you just reheated it, everything came pre-sliced pre-shredded and pre-mixed. There was no need for an opening shift – one person can come in and open all the baggies 🙁 Kind of made me sad that it has changed that much – it also put a huge damper on my Taco Bell habit.

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