Taco Bell Unveils “Mystery Meat” Ingredients

Taco Bell has said in the past that their beef is “88 percent beef.” What exactly does that mean?

I’ve heard many things about what Taco Bell puts in their meat, from horse meat to chicken chunks.

Taco Bell, owned by Yum! Brands, added a list to their website as to what composes the remaining 12 percent.

On the website, Taco Bell claims that the remaining ingredients

do have weird names”

but are all

safe and approved by the FDA.”

Taco Bell goes on to say:

They’re common ingredients also found in food items at your grocery store. Each ingredient helps make our Seasoned Beef taste great. Many of them are items you might use at home such as salt, peppers, and spices. Ingredients like oats and sodium phosphates help make sure the texture is right.”

They do advocate that they don’t use MSG (monosodium glutamate.)

Taco Bell spokesman told ABC News.com,

We believe it’s important that consumers make informed decisions about what they eat, and so for many years have provided details of our ingredients on our website.”

A chemist named Derek Lowe who is also a blogger and has a Ph.D. from Duke University, can understand why consumers would be skeptical about the ingredients. Their names are almost indecipherable. But he doesn’t agree with the “I can’t pronounce it, so I won’t eat it” ideal. Lowe said,

There’s nothing on this list I have a problem eating.”

The list includes maltodextrin, torula yeast, modified corn starch and trehalose, to name a few. Taco Bell advocates that most of their ingredients are found in other foods that consumers routinely eat.

Here’s the break down of the ingredients and what Taco Bell has to say about them:

1. MALTODEXTRIN

It sounds weird, but it’s actually a form of mildly sweet sugar we use to balance the flavor. You may have had it the last time you had a natural soda.”

2. TORULA YEAST

This is a form of yeast that gives our seasoned beef a more savory taste.”

3. MODIFIED CORN STARCH

“Actually, it’s derived from corn, which is a food staple in Mexican culture as well as many others. We use a small amount as a thickener and to maintain moisture in our seasoned beef. It’s common in many foods like yogurt.”

4. SOY LECITHIN

When you prepare as much seasoned beef as we do, you don’t want it to separate. That’s what soy lecithin does. It helps (with moisture) to bind substances that would otherwise separate — like oil and water. It’s a common ingredient in many grocery staples, like chocolate bars and salad dressings.”

5. SODIUM PHOSPHATES

Taco Bell says this ingredient is used

to help make sure our seasoned beef is the right texture. They’re also commonly found in deli items, cheeses, coffee drinks and desserts.”

6. LACTIC ACID

This safe acid occurs in almost all living things, and we use a very small amount to manage the acidity to get the right flavor.”

7. CARAMEL COLOR AND COCOA POWDER

Taco Bell says the caramel color

is caramelized sugar, which is a commonly used food coloring (also found in cereals and pancake syrup). Cocoa Powder doesn’t add any flavor to our recipe, but it helps our seasoned beef maintain a rich color.”

8. TREHALOSE

It’s a naturally occurring sugar that we use to improve the taste of our seasoned beef.”

It’s always good to know the ingredients in our food because, after all, “we are what we eat,” right?

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