According to The Consumerist, Attorney Beasley Allen claims that what Taco Bell calls “ground beef” does not meet the USDA’s definition of beef—”flesh of cattle”—and should instead be dubbed “taco meat filling.” To be called “ground beef,” by USDA definition, the product must “consist of chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.”
The suit claims that Taco Bell’s “meat-like offering is filled with extenders and other non-meat substances listed in the lawsuit like water, ‘Isolated Oat Product,’ wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate as well as beef and seasonings.”
I see the point of the lawsuit: If it’s not beef, don’t call it beef. (Incidentally, a statement released by Taco Bell today says the lawsuit is bogus and that their “seasoned beef recipe contains 88% quality USDA-inspected beef and 12% seasonings, spices, water and other ingredients that provide taste, texture and moisture.”)
Whatever the truth turns out to be, I don’t know which is worse: eating a taco with a bunch of mostly plant additives, or eating 100% feedlot meat, which is what you get at fast food chains in this country. (Taco Bell claims they buy their meat from “the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket, like Tyson Foods.” I personally would not trust even a chicken wing from Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest processors of chicken, beef, and pork.)
When you eat feedlot meat, you’re still consuming additives. Instead of wheat oats, try one of the myriad “safe and suitable” chemicals that the USDA allows in meat processing. Or try the drugs already consumed by feedlot cattle–intended to ward off bacteria from cows standing around in their own waste–which then make their way into your body.
I guess I can’t remember the last time I went to Taco Bell. It was probably a late night munchies run when I was in college two decades ago and didn’t know what I know now. But all it took was the movie “Food, Inc.” for me to never touch feedlot beef again.