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Herald staff | kmayer@heraldnet.com
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 9:34 a.m.

Taco Bell forced to think inside the tortilla

When I saw the Gizmodo headlineThis Is What Really Hides in Taco Bell's 'Beef' — I was ready for the worst.

Full disclosure (and a totally embarrassing fact for a supposedly eat-local Eco Geek): Taco Bell's stupid, dumb “beef” tacos are one of my culinary weaknesses.

Anyway, upon reading the expose-style headline, I expected tales of pink slime, you know, the stuff made from ammonia-bathed slaughter-house floor sweepings used in many food-like products. (Should that taste good? Oh, no, it should not!)

But the real non-shocker, which is backed by a lawsuit (more on that later), is that Taco Bell's taco filling may contain only 36 percent beef. In other words, the filling is all, um, fillers, chiefly, it would seem, isolated oat product.

Honestly, I actually think this is a good thing.

I'd rather eat seasoned oat derivatives than beef. Truly. This makes the tacos more vegetable or grain than meat. And we're supposed to be eating more veggies and grains anyway, right?

I only wish that 36 percent beef was something else because I don't know the quality of beef Taco Bell uses and I tend to assume the worst about fast food joints.

Other ingredients on Taco Bell's “taco meat filling” label include:

“… 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 [a form of MSG], 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.”

Taco Bell's ingredient lists aren't secret. You can read them all here.

It's the ratios of ingredients folks are having problems with these days.

On Jan. 25, according to the Boston Globe, an Alabama law firm filed a class-action lawsuit against Taco Bell, saying that the seasoned beef in its enchiladas and tacos is being misrepresented to consumers.

Taco Bell's president, according to the Globe, said in a statement on Tuesday that the lawsuit is full of inaccuracies and that the company plans to take legal action.

What do you think about that? Does this affect you? Take the poll and / or comment below.


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