The rumbling of my stomach is giving me a clear message that I need to eat lunch – it’s been nearly half a day since I ate, and I’m milling over my myriad options. I don’t have time to cook in, and I have some money to spare, so I decide to get fast food. The thought occurs to me in a flash that Taco Bell is just around the corner. I haven’t had their food before, and I always heard good things about their beef tacos from friends and family. I run through the drive-thru, my hunger fueling my manic run for the border. I order my meal, pay for it, and receive the plastic bag, which is now filling the car with the hot, spicy scent of their infamous tacos. Returning home, I open up my first taco and take a bite. Crunch! The shell cracks, and my mouth is full of a plethora of flavors, but, strangely, I can recognize none of them as meat. I look in the inside of my taco and I can recognize the shape of what looks like ground beef lining the bottom of my taco, but my taste buds cannot locate that specific flavor of beef. I finish the meal anyway, but for days, I wonder, what was in that taco?
Recently, a class action lawsuit has been filed by an Alabama law firm, claiming that the meat filling that Taco Bell puts in its beef tacos contains less than 35% beef, thereby making it rank below the FDA standards that allow it to be called “beef.” This has caused quite a stir in the fast food consuming community, and is making many people reconsider what they put in their stomachs.
According to the study that has been performed on the meat-like filling substance, the remaining 65% that does not constitute real ground beef is made up of a mixture of oat products, silicon dioxides, corn starch, smoke flavors, salt, potassium lactate, soybean oil, and other artificial flavors. The lawsuit states that they are using meat that is not up to FDA standards; at the very least, they are required to call it something different than ‘beef,’ or else they risk false advertising. In short, they accuse of attempting to fudge the quality of their food to a disgusting and virtually unsafe level, in order to maintain a higher profit margin by being forced to use as little beef as possible while providing the same sensation, flavor and texture of beef.
As a counter-point, however, Taco Bell is countersuing them for libel, and have released statements on their website claiming that their meat mixture consists of 88% real ground beef. The remaining 12% is the aforementioned spices and oat products, but it is a far more negligible number than the 65% proportion that was reported by the findings of the class action lawsuit. Regardless of the eventual verdict, no matter which recipe turns out to be the accurate one, it is one of many stories that is helping many people reconsider the world of fast food, and making them attempt to learn exactly what goes in the food that they consume.