A couple of weeks ago we posted a Business Week report titled “Keeping the Mystery Out of China’s Meat”
The essence of the article was that some Chinese retailers were selling donkey meat that was diluted with fox meat. If you don’t understand why that’s a show-stopper, see Tainted donkey meat … say, what?
Fearing that I might inadvertently get stuck with some bad donkey meat, I’ve been alert to mystery meat stories.
Right on cue, here comes Taco Bell.
C’mon, admit it … when you bite into a TB taco don’t you wonder if you’re really eating beef?
Back a couple of years ago, an Alabama-based law firm claimed in the class-action lawsuit that lab tests had shown that the eatery’s beef was actually only 35 percent beef.
The plaintiffs said they wanted the fast-food restaurant to stop referring to its products as beef.
Taco Bell took deep insult and aggressively defended the company’s honor.
TB prevailed when they proved that the beef in their beef tacos was actually 88% beef.
OK, that sent the Alabama-based law firm packing, but raised another obvious question: what’s the other 12%
Off the TB web site, here’s what makes up 12% of Taco Bell’s “beef” and what Taco Bell has to say about them:
“It sounds weird, but it’s actually a form of mildly sweet sugar we use to balance the flavor. You may have had it the last time you had a natural soda,” Taco Bell says.
2. TORULA YEAST
“This is a form of yeast that gives our seasoned beef a more savory taste,” the company says.
3. MODIFIED CORN STARCH
“Actually, it’s derived from corn, which is a food staple in Mexican culture as well as many others. We use a small amount as a thickener and to maintain moisture in our seasoned beef. It’s common in many foods like yogurt,” Taco Bell states.
4. SOY LECITHIN
“When you prepare as much seasoned beef as we do, you don’t want it to separate. That’s what soy lecithin does. It helps (with moisture) to bind substances that would otherwise separate — like oil and water. It’s a common ingredient in many grocery staples, like chocolate bars and salad dressings,” says Taco Bell.
5. SODIUM PHOSPHATES
Taco Bell says it uses this “to help make sure our seasoned beef is the right texture.”
“They’re also commonly found in deli items, cheeses, coffee drinks and desserts,” the company says.
6. LACTIC ACID
Taco Bell says, “This safe acid occurs in almost all living things, and we use a very small amount to manage the acidity to get the right flavor.”
7. CARAMEL COLOR AND COCOA POWDER
Taco Bell says the caramel color “is caramelized sugar, which is a commonly used food coloring (also found in cereals and pancake syrup). Cocoa Powder doesn’t add any flavor to our recipe, but it helps our seasoned beef maintain a rich color.”
Taco Bell: “It’s a naturally occurring sugar that we use to improve the taste of our seasoned beef.”
Now you’re talking.