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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. I get a cantina salad bowl when I go there. Are there any artificial ingredients or any other bad stuff in that?

      1. That’s why I don’t eat out! You don’t know what’s in there…….

  2. I had a severe allergic reaction after eating taco bell. Ems and all! Had tests done couldn’t find the source. Thought I would try Taco Bell again( benedryl and epi pen on hand) ! Sure enuff another severe case of hives! Trying to figure out what preservatives are used but not getting any cooperation!

  3. I’m trying to not eat any grains at all. Like Wheat Belly. What’s your take on that? I know you eat sprouted wheat.

  4. Hi Vani, I’m proud of you for speaking so pointedly and eloquently in this video. I have been following your page for a few years now – the first article I ever read of yours was about Kleenex! Lol 🙂 I also won a juicer awhile back that I still use to this day. Thank you for putting yourself out there and making a difference! I appreciate you

  5. You are amazing! I have soo much respect for you and admire the courage and strength you have to speak up! Yo have moved mountains and changed lives including mine! Bravo!!

  6. I wish that you would look into why Xanthan gum is in almost everything? I found it in all but one dressing. In all cream cheese in ice cream. It’s in BBQ sauce, frozen foods, ravioli and even in relish. It’s in canned food as well. I think big food companies are getting a kickback for using it in their food.

  7. Taco Bell is getting scarier by the month!

    First Doritos shells, then breakfast tacos, now Cap’n Crunch?


    1. I hear ya Candi, it’s krazy Vani came with this story today cause i just cheated on my non-gmo diet just last night lol. I felt so guilty afterwards 🙁

  8. Awesome, Vani! You are at your best in formats like this where you have a forum to speak passionately and directly like in this video. Articulate and highly effective. Great job!!!!

  9. What do you think of Jamba Juices drinks overall and their green juices? What about starbucks green juices.

  10. Thank you for this post Vani! It is so scary to think about what passes as food in this country for ourselves and our families! Keep fighting the good fight!

  11. Would like a video about the chemicals they are putting in our water especially in OC. Talked with a man who fixes pipes in OC and says water is wearing out pipes here due to chemicals they put in it. He will be speaking in front of a small group of my friends to tell us which chemicals. He said gets the most business in OC because it is the worst here.

    1. The water companies changed the chlorine use to chloramines, which is chlorine and ammonia. Many people are getting reactions like itchy dry skin, red bumps and rashes and asthma. We had to buy a whole house water filtration system. I have never had skin problems but had red bumps on my legs that wouldn’t go way. The dermatologist can figure out what it is.

  12. By law, they (Taco Bell) should not be able to call this food. It’s a cornucopia of toxic ingredients that can ruin your health very quickly. Where is the food? Everything is artificial and preservatives that are linked to cancer. This food is pure poison. I advise anyone eating there to re-evaluate your health goals. If you want to stay off pharmaceuticals and live a healthy life, avoid fast food. There’s no such thing as “healthy” fast food.

  13. When I go to Taco Bell, I only order soft shell beef tacos for me and my children. I don’t order Doritos, or Cap’n Crunch, or other co-branded products and I don’t buy any Pepsi. What’s wrong with soft shell beef tacos (no sauce)? Cheese, soft shell flour tacos (besides the gluten etc. which has been criticized, soft shell is easier to eat than hard shell), beef (we are not vegetarians) and lettuce. Sure it’s not organic, but when I go to the grocery store I bring home organic lettuce and antibiotic and hormone free beef, among other healthy food, and I buy a lot more of that than I do Taco Bell tacos.

    1. Besides factory farmed meat raised with antibiotics, possible growth hormones and GMOs… – I doubt most of these ingredients below (in the order that you mentioned) would be in your food if you prepared tacos yourself or went to Chipotle for that matter 🙂 Knowledge is power!

      Enriched wheat flour, water, vegetable shortening (soybean, hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil), sugar, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophophate), molasses, dough conditioner (fumaric acid, distilled monoglycerides, enzymes, wheat starch, calcium carbonate), calcium propionate, sorbic acid, and/or potassium sorbate (P). Contains: Wheat

      Beef, water, seasoning [cellulose, chili pepper, onion powder, salt, oats (contains wheat), maltodextrin, soy lecithin, tomato powder, sugar, soybean oil, spices, garlic powder, citric acid, caramel color (C), disodium inosinate & guanylate, cocoa powder, natural and artificial flavors (contains gluten), trehalose, modified corn starch, lactic acid, torula yeast], salt, phosphates. Contains: Soy, Wheat

      Cheddar cheese (cultured pasteurized milk, salt, enzymes, annatto (VC)), anti-caking agent. Contains: Milk

    2. Damn Corrine…Vani really broke it down for ya, but i’m guilty of cheating on my non-gmo diet with taco bell too but seeing all that crap they put in it we need to do what Vani did and just cancel the order then drive off!!

  14. FoodBabe- I just saw an infomercial for Purity Produce Juicing Cleanse. Says its an easier, faster alternative to juicing. What do you think of this product?

  15. I appreciate all of the information you provide. That Taco Bell drive through video was dumb though…..

  16. I would like you to somehow help inner schools come up with healthy menus. Thank you

  17. Any info on Del Taco? I buy their Grilled Chicken Taco, minus the Tortilla. Chicken tastes great! Lots of shredded lettuce and cheese!

  18. I just want your take on MSG – it is in EVERYTHING and also under different names in ingredients that people think are safe to eat, when in reality it is all MSG. I am sensitive to MSG and try to keep it out of my diet completely. I get horrible headaches, my head feels like it’s going to explode and just plain puffy and feel sick. It takes ony time to get out of my sysem and is absolutely horrible…..I think it needs to be taken out of the foods we eat. WE DONT NEED IT!!!

    Thank you for your voice!

  19. Thanks for all you do to make the food safer and for the options we are acquiring over time. At least we have a few choices now when we eat out before we had hardly none.

  20. Yesterday I ate a burrito at Taco Bell. UGH,!today I read your report about how they are lying to us. I thank you so much for helping us!!! Having changed my food habits since 2012 I have no medical issues and have kept my weight loss under control. I am 68 and feel better then ever about my body! I am ashamed that when I read Taco Bell s ingredients I believed them! Thank again food babe! Jeanne

  21. They better start closing down some stores Vani, thanks to people like you. I will never set foot in any of their stores ever again. Also thanks for looking out for our health, your the best!

  22. Vani, great investigative work once again! Can you please comment on your thoughts regarding the TTP agreement our government secretly pushed through? I am extremely worried about the impact on our already sub-par food supply. Any thoughts?

  23. I realize your forum here is about food, but please, bare with me. I had always supported Hillary, but since she hired an ex employee of Monsanto and is becoming a spokesperson for Monsanto as well, I have faltered my position for her. I do not believe that an elected politician, especially a Presidential candidate ought to be in alliance with such a company that poisons people, animals and insects. What’s your opinion on this?

  24. Can you let us know about the new “dark roast” coffee offered at Dunkin Donuts and Tim Hortons. It is SO good….why? Thanks!!!

  25. I can’t eat their “food”. The stuff is terrible. I don’t understand how they are in business.

  26. Yep, they are just trying to feed us as much garbage as they can before they kill us off!

    1. They aren’t trying to kill us off, but since they know how bad their food is for us–it will eventually kill us off:(

  27. God Bless You Vani for continuing the march! I so appreciate your investigative work exposing the ingredients these food companies are using and helping to promote change for healthier choices. If companies get a clue that people are willing to pay for fresh, wholesome, healthy ingredients, they can still make a handsome profit and sleep well at night. You’re work is awesome! Thank you Vani, on behalf of me, my family and everyone I share this with . Jamie

  28. I really enjoyed your video..I agree that there is more work to be done..I do stay away from from these fast food places because they are addicting but there is absolutely no nutrition…I feel much better and an losing weight since I stopped eating fast food and I’m a member of your army…thanks so much

  29. Thank you Foodbabe, Keep up the great work, I believe most all these food companies really do not care what the american people eat; but you do. Thank you and keep up the good battle; God bless you.

  30. I really enjoyed your video…I agree with the findings ..I’ve lost weight staying away from these fast food places ..thank you for all you do to keep people who want to eat safely be informed….I am a member of your army..thanks for all you do…

  31. MSG’s mess with insulin so you feel hungry and to eat more. My cousin’s grandmother was not diabetic, but have symptoms like a diabetic with a wrong insulin dose when she went to the ER.

  32. I was very pleased to hear that Taco Bell has never used much artificial flavorsor color to begin with. That is a good thing. Good news!

  33. Vanni…….
    Can’t tell you how much I LOVE that you are in the World, Uncovering the Food Corruption happening at every level in the USA and letting us know so we can HELP Change this Poisonous System.
    Thank You!!

  34. Is there any healthy fast food places?? Arbys just opened up here in Magna Utah. Is their food healthy do you know?

  35. I agree with you. I don’t eat at Taco Bell anymore & not because of the artificial food colorings. ———- It’s all the other Bad stuff in their foods.

    Every time I am tempted to cheat on my diet and have a taco or something else at Taco Bell, I remind myself – of just what I would be eating….
    And that takes care of any ‘taco bell cravings’

  36. I love that you are doing this!!! I finally have substantial evidence to show my family why even their beloved Taco Bell is not a good option for dinner. Thank you!!!!
    I know….I am the mother and should be in charge – but I am seriously out-numbered. I win most of the time!

  37. Thank you Vani and the food army.
    I can’t buy a healthy Gluten free
    bread or healthy G.F. crackers.
    It starts out with Brown rice then after that it goes down hill.
    White rice, white potato flour, and most crackers have flax seeds that I am allergic too. Organic G.F. bread and healthy would be wonderful. I won’t eat what’s out there and I am loosing weight.
    Thanks for all your work. Ricki

  38. Well done Vani and the Food Babe Group on the facts and current issues with big business; TB and Peps!! Bottom line, it’s going to take time for the real word to get out on nutritional foods. So it is up to us to spread the word. Educate yourself!!! Big business does not care about the general public. It is when the public really demands change and begins actively taking serious steps towards seeing that change become a reality. The quickest and straightest path to take is through American Buying Power. Hit them where it hurts; Period. Organic is the only road to take. I keep telling folks to start making their own meals’ breakfast, lunch and dinner. Learn to eat bulk foods and focus upon Superfoods’ fruits, veggies, nuts, seasonings and spices. If you eat meat, it is always ORGANIC!!! The research coming out now is staggering on how powerful God made food is and has always been. Organics is and has always been the real and only road to health.. With all of the ducking and dodging all of the chemicals, pesticides, dyes, colorings ETC . . .and all of the politics, misinformation and ETC . it is so much easier and safer to do it yourself. Work with someone and or go read a few books and get after it. It does take some effort and with time you will figure how to fit it all into your life. Soon it becomes second nature. I cooked a quick meal last night for my neighbor and myself. He really enjoyed the simple meal. Very simple ingredients and a little imagination and boom bang boom. . . dinner was served. List of ingredients was:: kale-3 leaves, green Anaheim pepper-1/2, red bell pepper- 1/4, shallot-1/2, mushrooms-2 sml, green scallions-2, chop to your liking set aside. 5-6 oz top sirloin-grass fed. Chop cook medium heat to your liking. drain excess oil and set aside. Sauté chopped veggies with Olive Organic Oil. I do this over high heat just until starts to cook and remove. Somewhere b/n 1 to 2 minutes covered and it’s done. Or you can eat the veggies raw. Now, the fun starts. Here is where you can make up your own dressing/topping. Some necessary basics to get started are Olive Oil/Vinegar, juice(perhaps OJ or fresh crushed berries of your choosing. . . chopped herbs of your choice and cheese grated again, you choose and don’t be afraid to experiment. Another possibility would be to add some wine(red/white at the last minute while saluting. You can also add wine to your salad dressings! Please note that when done cooking, dinner is served. BOTTOM LINE:: ALL ingredients ARE ORGANIC.
    Carry on!

  39. I eat at home more. I notice that since I started my weight loss journey I don’t crave for a lot of stuff. Try to do organic or fresh or frozen as oppose to can foods. Thanks for the article. Keep up the good work you are doing.

  40. Food Babe, You are the greatest!! I love all the information you have to share. Even though I have never eaten in a fast-food place, and don’t intend to, It’s good to hear what is going on. Everyone should listen to you.

    Thanks for all your enthusiastic hard work!!

  41. Vani,
    Is there any possibility of having your videos captioned? The auto captioning doesn’t work very well. I’m Deaf myself & I can see your videos can be very informative if only if only they are subtitled. Thank you!

  42. I am not a Taco Bell fan, nor do I patronize fast food places; but thank you so much for the heads up. I usually share your findings with my children so they are aware for their children. ( my grandkids) !!! Great work Vani!!

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