Head to Taco Bell and you’re likely to munch on a burrito (or crunchwrap, or quesadilla, or Mexican pizza, or…), loaded with what you might refer to as a beef-like product. Taco Bell explained that its beef filling was comprised of 88 percent beef and 12 percent “Signature Recipe” after a lawsuit was brought against the company in 2011 in which a consumer alleged Taco Bell didn’t use enough actual beef in its products to call it, well, beef.
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Today, Taco Bell launched a web page to explain exactly what it uses in that remaining 12 percent. Their beef making process, according to the website, is executed as follows:
“…We start with USDA-inspected quality beef. Then add water to keep it juicy and moist. Mix in Mexican spices and flavors, including salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, sugar, garlic powder and cocoa powder. Combine a little oats, yeast, citric acid, and other ingredients that contribute to the flavor, moisture, consistency and quality of our seasoned beef.”
Some of the “other ingredients” listed on the website include (quotes from taken from this website):
Cellulose: “Helps with water and oil binding. You’ll find it in everything from cheese and vitamins to bread and pasta.”
Soy Letchin: “Helps (with moisture) to bind substances that would otherwise separate—like oil and water.”
Sodium Phosphates: “We use them to help make sure our seasoned beef is the right texture.”
Lactic Acid: “We use a very small amount to manage the acidity to get the right flavor.”
Trehalose: “A naturally occurring sugar that we use to improve the taste of our seasoned beef.”
Maltodextrin: “It’s actually a form of mildly sweet sugar we use to balance the flavor.”
You can see the other ingredients here. The remaining 88 percent of the filling is in fact beef: “only USDA-inspected, 100 percent premium real beef, period,” according to the website.
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If you’re looking for a cheat meal, you might be better served just making your own tacos—y’know, the kind filled with 100 percent beef.