A class-action suit alleging that Taco Bell is engaging in false advertising for peddling "seasoned beef" is a step in the right direction, if it proves to be true. The suit doesn't ask for damages, it merely demands that Taco Bell disclose the ingredients in its "seasoned beef," which the suit says is composed of just 15 percent protein and a whole lot of other stuff.
Gizmodo has a nice scan of the "taco meat filling," here's what's listed on the package:
Beef, water, isolated oat product, 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, 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 percent of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.
You know, none of this stuff is really so horrible. The problem is that it's being sold and marketed as beef, and, if the suit's facts prove to be true, the "taco meat filling" isn't really beef. It's some beef, some scary-sounding additives, flavorings, and some fibers from various plants, ground up to look like beef. What did you think you were getting for your $1, really? And scary-sounding stuff ground up to look like meat, hmm, where have I heard of this before? Oh right. You know Boca burgers? Healthy, right?
"Water, soy protein concentrate, reduced fat cheddar cheese (pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, annatto (color), vitamin A palmitate), wheat gluten, corn oil, contains less than 2% of methylcellulose, hydrolyzed corn protein, wheat gluten and soy protein, salt, caramel color, cheese powder (cheddar cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), cream, salt, sodium phosphate, lactic acid), dried onions, yeast extract, natural flavor (non-meat), sesame oil, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, browned in corn oil."
Whoa, Nancy! That's some ingredient list! Lots of stuff in common with Taco Bell, in fact. How about an ingredient list for another veggie burger? That Boca thing must have been just a fluke. Let's look at a MorningStar Farms Griller.
"Water, textured soy protein concentrate, corn oil, contains two percent or less of autolyzed yeast extract, vegetable gum, natural flavors from vegetable sources, maltodextrin, soy fiber, salt, carrageenan, potato starch, onion powder, caramel color, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, konjac flour, sunflower oil, sesame seed oil, soy sauce (water, soybeans, wheat, salt), concentrated onion juice, ascorbic acid, vinegar powder, citric acid, aspartic acid, modified corn starch, malic acid, succinic acid, tartaric acid, lactic acid, wheat flour, soy lecithin."
Taco Bell, why don't you just come on out and say you're reducing your beef content for our health?