Meat At Taco Bell

Have you ever eaten food from the Taco Bell chain? Have you ever wondered how they can sell tacos and such so cheaply? One reason it is profitable for the chain to sell a taco for 79 cents is that the ground beef is really a composite product with large amounts of filler to “bulk it out”. Here’s an ingredient listing:

The “seasoned ground beef” contains less than 35 percent beef – the other 65 percent of the meat-like mixture is: water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin, soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color,
cocoa powder (processed with alkali), 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.The “seasoned ground beef” contains less than 35 percent beef – the other 65 percent of the meat-like mixture is: water,
isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin, soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), 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.

Notice that the second ingredient after water is something called “isolated oat product”. What a name! It sounds rather bleak and desolate and prompts me to wonder just what is being isolated from what. According to the FDA the food-like material is defined thusly:

Trade Name: Vitacel Isolated Oat Product
Chemical Name: Oat hull fiber consisting of: Cellulose(70%), Hemicellulose(25%), and Lignin(max 5%)

Oat hulls, eh? Just chaff, really, not very different from sawdust. Lignin in food, what a concept! Lignin is an organic polymer which stiffens the cell walls of plant structures. Lignin gives wood its rigidity. I imagine it can do the same with feces.

I suppose oat isolate isn’t really bad for you — it’s just an inert filler, but I can’t help but think that it is deceptive to call a meat-like food “seasoned ground beef” when the beef is just one third of the product. Taco Bell is being sued right now and it’ll be interesting to see what the legal system concludes.

Larry

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7 Comments

Filed under Food

7 responses to “Meat At Taco Bell

  1. Leslie

    I heard that for meat products like this the USDA rule is it must be at least 40% beef. Still, despite the lack of protein, those cheap tacos are still tasty!

  2. Jeff Walz

    They should have done what the crafty Chinese do- add a bunch of Melamine to it to make the protein content appear higher- problem solved! (except for the infant deaths and kidney stones). I’m more curious about that gray paste they call “refried beans”- what’s THAT made out of?

  3. Darrell

    Larry, you’re right. It almost qualifies as a vegetable maybe? BTW . . . any luck at any Indian restaurants in the area? You were looking a while back?

  4. There might be an Indian restaurant in Columbia, MO, — and I know there are several in St. Louis. Living in this area I’ve found that it’s best to just learn how to cook such foods rather than waiting for a restaurant to show up.

  5. Darrell

    Good idea . . . there are a number of sites on the ‘net. I googled called “Indian curry easy” for a start . . heres a sample: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/easy-chicken-curry/Detail.aspx

  6. Leslie

    Well don’t I feel guilty – we have terrific Indian dishes available at MasterCard each Wed. and Fri. Great food. Also India Palace and others are good around the St. Louis area.

  7. I’m not a fan of Taco Bell, but lignin is an important anti-oxidant that reduces the incidence of colon cancer. The seeds in strawberries and blueberries, and the crunch in cucumber, all come from lignin.

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