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Is That Taco Bell Drive Thru Still Calling Your Name? (Don’t Let It, Here’s Why!)

I have something to confess. I was caught on video in the Taco Bell drive-thru recently

Just kidding. Sort of. 🙂 

Let me explain.

Taco Bell Preview

When the news broke recently that Taco Bell was removing artificial ingredients by next year, headlines everywhere were proclaiming: “Taco Bell, Pizza Hut Nix Artificial Ingredients”… “Pizza Hut and Taco Bell Just Got a Little Bit Healthier”… “Taco Bell, Pizza Hut Ditching Artificial Colors and Flavors”.  

I was pretty excited at this news and ready to celebrate. With so many companies changing their ingredients recently – everyone from Panera Bread to Chipotle to General Mills – I thought this was a huge win!

But I was wrong.

Taco Bell’s announcement was a head fake. It was very apparent this was a calculated public relations move once I started to dig a little further into their announcement.

This is why I ended up in the Taco Bell drive-thru….

Check it out here:

The truth is that Taco Bell won’t be removing artificial colors and flavors from all of their food, and Taco Bell’s food is pretty much staying the same.

Sure, they are removing a few ingredients here and there, but they are still selling lots of processed food. The first question I asked myself when I heard their announcement was: “How much will their menu change?” 

Well, it turns out not very much!

That’s because Taco Bell hardly uses “artificial colors” and “artificial flavors” in the first place.

Artificial colors:  I reviewed their online ingredient list (dated 6/9/15) and found that they only add FD&C certified artificial colors – like yellow #5 and blue #1 – to a small handful of items. Besides their sodas and drinks, I only found certified artificial colors in 6 individual products:

  1. Avocado Ranch Sauce
  2. Nacho Cheese Sauce
  3. Red Tortilla Strips
  4. Doritos Locos Taco Cool Ranch Shell (won’t be removed)
  5. Doritos Locos Taco Fiery Shell (won’t be removed)
  6. Doritos Locos Taco Nacho Cheese Shell (won’t be removed)

So, unless you are ordering something with Avocado Ranch Sauce, Nacho Cheese Sauce, or Red Tortilla Strips, it never contained artificial colors to begin with – and please note only 3 of the items above are actually changing … read on to find out more!

Artificial flavors:  We all know that when you see “natural flavors” on an ingredient list it’s a secret mixture of up to 100 individual ingredients that aren’t necessarily any safer than artificial flavors, so removing artificial flavors only to replace them with natural flavors isn’t going to be a huge improvement in terms of faking us with added flavors. However, they did mention that they will start using “real black pepper” in their taco meat instead of artificial black pepper flavoring, which I applaud them for (but this also begs the question why they weren’t using plain old pepper in the first place)! Scanning their ingredient list, it’s apparent that almost all of the flavors that they use are “natural flavors” already, so not much is changing in this department. 

Taco Bell Graphic_2

Some of the most popular items at Taco Bell won’t be changing AT ALL because they are “co-branded”.

What does that mean? Anything that is in partnership with another brand, like their Pepsi or Frito Lay products (I’m talking about you, Mountain Dew Baja and Doritos taco shells). At least Taco Bell included in their announcement that co-branded products wouldn’t be affected, but you may not realize how many there are. There’s actually an extensive list of co-branded products at Taco Bell with either artificial colors or artificial flavors that won’t be changing, which include some of their most popular items like: 

  • Doritos Locos Taco Shells (all varieties)
  • Cinnabon Delights
  • Nacho Cheese Doritos
  • Brisk Iced Tea & Lemonade
  • Mountain Dew Baja Blast
  • Mountain Dew Kickstart Orange Citrus
  • Starburst Strawberry Freeze
  • Cap’ n Crunch Delights

Taco Bell’s newest co-branded invention will be exempt as well!

Just a couple short weeks after their announcement, Taco Bell started advertising their new Cap’n Crunch Delights, which are exempt as a co-branded item, and literally covered in toxic Cap’n Crunch Berries. If Taco Bell really wanted to join the food revolution, they wouldn’t be advertising or selling “food” like this at all. 


We all know that even if Taco Bell removes artificial colors and flavors from their food, it’s still not healthy.

They’ve got a looonnnnnng way to go if they really want to jump on the good food movement and win our business. Taco Bell needs to stop serving factory farmed meat raised with antibiotics, GMO ingredients, unnecessary preservatives like TBHQ (which Chick-Fil-A dumped), and monosodium glutamate (MSG) that makes us eat more than we should.

I realize that it’s “fast food” and not what any of us consider healthy, but think about how much our world would change if they stopped using products from industrial farms and genetically modified crops. They are an industry leader, and any changes they make trickles down to their suppliers. How much beef does Taco Bell buy every year? What about the corn in their taco shells? Taco Bell would need to use suppliers that agree to use farming practices that are better for the environment and our overall health. They would also need to stop buying food additives from the chemical companies.

Taco Bell told the media that they are looking “to remove more additives and artificial preservatives ‘where possible’ by the end of 2017” – so more changes might be on the horizon. I just hope they are the right ones. 

Can Taco Bell do it? Are they up for the challenge? Until then, you certainly won’t find me at Taco Bell.

Do you have friends that told you they were excited about Taco Bell’s announcement and plan to start eating there again? Share this post and video with them! The more that we can keep the pressure on, the quicker industry leaders like Taco Bell will change. We are really making waves right now, and although it seems like the pace is slow at times, I know we can make this happen and can get more people access to safer and cleaner food.




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99 responses to “Is That Taco Bell Drive Thru Still Calling Your Name? (Don’t Let It, Here’s Why!)

  1. Thank you Food Babe!!!! I truly appreciate all that you do. You were the one that started me on my quest of getting healthy and eating clean. I was totally floored when I read my first article written by you. I must have been living like an ostrich with my head in the ground until I heard about you and what you do for the consumers.

    I signed up for your emails and videos because my stomach could no longer take the food – I can stomach the truth and that way I can change what I put in it.

    Your information has allowed me to make my own decisions as to what I eat and what I do not eat and with that information and with the Grace of G-d I will be able to live a well informed life to be able to make the best choices for me and my family!!! BTW, do you need an assistant??? LOL!! Thanks again and keep up the good work!

  2. Thank you for sharing the awesome pictures! I appreciate all your hardwork…its not in vain!

    In the next episode please consider the topic on meal replacement shakes. They seem popular. A quick weight loss product but not the best or healthiest choice.

    Thank you,

  3. Oh my goodness I agree with Vanessa!! Meal replacement shakes are sooo terrible and people really think they are healthy ! No to mention the horrible lies that are being told to grandparents everywhere, ensure is not good for you!! The third ingredient is sugar! Please please highlight these terrible poison shakes sometime soon!
    Thank you 🙂 much love!

  4. Thank you so much for spreading the truth!!! Will definitely share your video on …..I think all the food chains should be scared of you!! Please keep going we need people like you to push companies to change!!! Thank you for all your hard work, you really are inspiring!!!

  5. Hello, I agree of what you are saying about fast food industries and the one like Taco Bell, is full of process foods made with artificial colors and flavors. That is why I haven’t gone to any of these fast foods corporate giants for many years.

  6. Great post as always! Have given up on all Chain Fast Food because it is Fast but not Food ! I commend Chipotle for removing GMO and personally thank their managers as I enter one. Your body knows the difference in good clean food and non, so just listen to it, and furthermore, learn to read the ingredients and just do not buy. Cutting the money in the money trail will make every organization stop, pay attention, and make changes if they want to continue to exist, so everyone continue putting pressure on these firms. Trust no longer exist, VERIFY BEFORE BUY!

  7. I love how you make all the bad ingredients on a label red. I wish they always came that way. It would make it so much easier to see what’s good versus bad for you. Thanks!

    1. The letters on the label are heat sensitive and the bad ingredients turn red when you rub the package. This is a new requirement from the FDA to help health conscious consumers like us.

      1. That sounds good, but I’d rather have someone besides the FDA deciding what’s good and bad! When does this requirement go into effect?

  8. Please give your opinion of Whole Foods 365 Coconut water, not from concentrate. Was buing Harvestbay, but having trouble finding a reasonable rice at Earth Origines in Sarasota Fl The 365 is #:00 compared to 5.99 for Harvest Bay. Thanks..

  9. Great video. Important information, well-presented. You give me optimism.

  10. Thank you for this video and thank you for expaining how misleading Taco Bell’s announcement is. My kids watched this video and you explained MSG in a way that they understand. We don’t eat at Taco Bell but my son LOVES Doritos and sadly buys them at school. Keep doing what you are doing because it is working.

  11. Who can you believe The media is always misrepresenting the truth. It’s up to all of us, like you, to do our own investigation and never rely on the media.

    It is amazing that, a country like ours, allows food that is banned is other countries.

    Thank you for your continued work to bring us the truth. You are AWESOME.

  12. Keep the pressure on , Vani..
    Something that I do , on my own time and effort, is email food companies asking if their product that I have, (long ago past) consumed in the past contains GMO ingredients , and I have gotten answers everywhere from , No reply to- “if I send a doctor’s statement , to them , stating , I am to not have any GMO ingredients (this was an Heinz Company) that they would send a reply to my answer …I mostly get replies and some answers I don’t deem truthful. I wish more people could take the time to do the email thing , it is definitely , to those using gmo ingredients , a voice , saying no to GE foods

  13. I never go to Taco Bell anyways even back in the days when I still ate fast food. Tacos are usually gross and made grosser by a slurry of chemical additives.

  14. Can you show more on Fake Spices and Seasonings? Sudan Dye in Chili Power, Cayenne Power Turmeric and Paprika. They have fillers in them like Brick Power, Talc, Sand, Dirt, Bugs, Lead and other scary stuff. Thank You!

  15. the hospital where I work has made HUGE changes in “food” that goes on patient trays. I know it has a lot to do with the attention you bring to poisons in processed foods. Proud of you. Love Shalini

  16. Have to admit that even though I know Taco Bell isn’t the healthiest place for me to eat, I do eat there once in a while.

  17. My wife and I own an organic farm that we built a community around. I think McDonald’s almost single handedly created our nation of obese diabetics In the USA. Wifey and I have spent the last week canning tomatoes and green beans. It seems strange by modern standards where fast food is the norm, but the way we live is the way people use to live, and in my opinion, should live.

  18. I would love to know why no one is getting arrested for having these toxic deadly chemicals in the food to began with??? We all sit around and cheer when an ingredient is removed and move on with our lives. But we never sit back and realize all the people that were seriously hurt if not killed by these ingredients that have no actual studies and we let the corporations just run us into the ground with there genecide propaganda. We just sit on our iphones and take it, and play candy crush all day and share puppy photos on Facebook and type lol with smiley faces. It’s just sad to see so many people not awake.. I feel for all you sheeple, you need to start questioning everything, and 2+2 is not 5 !!!!!!

    1. Dallas,
      You bring up many awesome questions!!!
      I have been doing research on many things including
      food and our environment for over 3 yrs now. What I have found would /should leave Americans completely outranged. But like you said many are too busy on their phones (very toxic by the way… way too much radiation!!!) thats a story for another day (look it up). What I have learned to sorta address your question. 1. As The food babe mentioned these foods are/have dumbed down our society. Have you noticed how people walk around like zombies? Anyway, I have learned pretty much that big money has basically dictated just about everything in this country. There are people selling out the hardworking Americans in this country. They want to make a huge profit at our expense. And if you look at who is running places like the fda and this countries agriculture you will see a trail leading to places like Monsanto and other company’s like them. Also, I would not put it past big pharma having their hand in it somewhere. In my opinion, it is greed and the almighty dollar. I would love to see a day where everyone who has had their hand in the destruction of our food, and the destruction of our environment gets their hand slapped. In my research and my opinion , what The food Babe has been able to do with some of these companies is amazing. Believe me it was no easy task. People are starting to realize that the government does what it can to protect the consumer but with the loopholes and with the big companies in control we are not safe as consumers.

  19. Thank you so much for this interesting information. I’ve tried Taco Bell a lot of times, just like the other fast foods I visit. But things have already changed since I decided to start a healthy lifestyle. It really matters to get the right information to be aware of what you are really eating.

  20. Vani-you asked-who are our trusted advisors-two of my favorites is Paleo Grubs and Against All Grain by Danielle a Walker. They make it simple and healthy to eat. Just add in organic where you need to and Voila! A healthy lifestyle.
    Keep forging ahead Vani. We are all behind you in this family.

  21. Jumping to the good food movement is not going to happen where corporations own the day, the media, and our government. Taco Bell is definitely one that I drive by and I no longer even see the place. All it takes is a bad eating experience, but now it matters not what I eat, 1-2 hours after eating anything it hurts, I even got hijacked out of a healthy GB, then spent the next year crying every single day in pain, I asked the surgeon why did you remove, it was not inflamed like they told us?, he cares not. I remember, back in probably 89, or 90 you could get three hard shell taco’s for a dollar. I spent my life eating bread and corn, starchy cheap foods, now in my mid 40’s, and I’ve been sick for 5 years.

  22. Vani I think you are amazing. I live in Canada and as a new food coach I pass on alot of information and your website to my new clients and anyone who will listen. Thanks for your hard work. I’m a newbie food activist and there is just so much to learn it’s overwhelming. You have an army or supporters behind you. You go girl

  23. I love how you make all the bad ingredients on a label red. I wish they always came that way. It would make it so much easier to see what’s good versus bad for you. Thanks!

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