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What Taco Bell Isn’t Telling Us About Their Ingredients, But You Need To Know!

Taco Bell was never one of the usual fast food joints my parents took me to growing up. I was introduced to it by a high school friend. We would go there after school, pull up to the drive through where my friend would order 2 bean burritos with extra hot sauce and scarf them down while I sat there wondering if he would take me to Wendy’s to get a hamburger (my favorite fast food back then). I couldn’t drive yet so I relied on my friend to chauffeur me around everywhere. Eventually I decided to try a burrito instead of begging my friend to make a stop at Wendy’s too. Surprisingly, it was pretty good and had to be healthier than a burger, I thought.

Boy, was I wrong – just take a look at the ingredients below. They are not pretty. A bean burrito is one of the simplest meals ever, but Taco Bell has processed it to death. Their bean burritos contain possible GMOs, preservatives made from butane (a very carcinogenic gas) called TBHQ, hidden MSG additives that trick your brain to remember and crave a flavor and other nasty processed food chemicals no one would cook with in their home!

Taco Bell Bean Burrito

Watching the headlines from Taco Bell pop up on my computer screen this week brought back this memory. Many of you (The #FoodBabeArmy) wanted to hear my thoughts about what Taco Bell is up to in their latest marketing scheme by revealing what’s exactly in their food on their website. 

The motivation for Taco Bell’s latest marketing move came from a lawsuit.

In 2011, Taco Bell took out a full page ad in at least nine major newspapers, in an attempt to explain what’s exactly in their beef product because they were being sued in a class action lawsuit that claimed their beef is only “35% beef” and full of extenders and fillers. Taco Bell shot back that their beef product contains “88% Beef and 12% Secret Recipe”.  

And now, three years later, although the lawsuit was dropped, Taco Bell made headlines again this week regarding their webpage called What Are Those Other Ingredients?, which attempts to describe the other 12% of ingredients behind their secret recipe that have some pretty weird names.  Taco Bell President said all of these ingredients are in there to “enhance flavor, texture, taste.ABC News interviewed a chemist from Duke University that said “There’s nothing on this list I have a problem eating.” After you find out the truth – I wonder if you’ll think the same.  Let’s take a close look at these ingredients and see what’s really happening here. 

What Taco Bell says vs. what they should really say.

1.  MALTODEXTRIN

What Taco Bell Says: “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”

The Truth:  Maltodextrin is likely made from genetically modified corn and according to David Zinczenko, author of “Eat It to Beat It”, “like other sugars, maltodextrin has the potential to raise blood glucose and insulin levels.”  GMO Compass explains that it is typically added to food as a filling and thickening agent.  I want to know why they have to use maltodextrin to “balance the flavor” when they are already using sugar in the beef mixture in it’s pure form – seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

2.  TORULA YEAST

What Taco Bell Says: “This is a form of yeast that gives our seasoned beef a more savory taste” 

The Truth:  This is hidden MSG.  According to truthinlabeling.org and Dr. Mark Hyman in his new book “The 10 Day Detox Diet” – Torula Yeast can be a form of hidden glutamic acid – the main component in MSG that makes you crave an unforgettable taste and eat more than you should.  Companies love using hidden forms of MSG like this ingredient that prevents them from actually saying “Monosodium Glutamate” on the label.  So, while Taco Bell says they don’t use MSG:  “Nope, None!” –  I find this statement very misleading.  

3.  MODIFIED CORN STARCH

What Taco Bell Says: “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” 

The Truth:  Just because it’s “common” doesn’t mean that it’s good for you.  Modified corn starch is a highly processed chemically-altered form of corn starch that is added to processed food as a cheap texturizing agent – and it’s not a natural ingredient that you would use in the kitchen. The corn that it’s derived from is likely GMO, as more than 90% of corn in the U.S. is genetically modified.  

4.  SOY LECITHIN

What Taco Bell Says: “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”

The Truth:  This super-cheap ingredient is made from soybean oil that was most likely extracted with the toxic chemical hexane. As described by The Cornucopia Institute, “Hexane is a byproduct of gasoline refining. It is a neurotoxin and a hazardous air pollutant…Whole soybeans are literally bathed in hexane to separate the soybeans’ oil from protein”.  This is yet another ingredient that is likely derived from a GMO source – soybeans.  

5.  SODIUM PHOSPHATES

What Taco Bell Says: This is used “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 Truth:  Phosphates are added to many processed foods and a phosphate-rich diet can be detrimental to your health. Diets high in phosphates are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, bone loss, and leads to a rapid progression of kidney disease.  Janeen Leon, MS, RD, LD, a researcher at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, reported the following:

“We’re finding that, even among healthy adults, people with phosphate levels at the higher end of what’s considered normal have higher mortality rates… Though there’s no hard evidence that high-phosphate diets cause kidney disease, there is sufficient data showing that phosphorous does cause a more rapid progression of the disease… Doctors are making comments like, Is this the next trans fat? Is this the next cholesterol?”

6.  LACTIC ACID

What 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.”

The Truth:  This type of Lactic acid is created in a laboratory, and likely derived from GMO corn starch or sugar beets.  As I avoid ingredients that are derived from GMOs, this is on my “Do Not Eat” list.

7.  COCOA POWDER

Taco Bell says:  “Cocoa Powder doesn’t add any flavor to our recipe, but it helps our seasoned beef maintain a rich color.”

The Truth:  They use cocoa powder to make the beef more appealing to the eye to trick you to eat this less than stellar product. Their ingredient label reveals that their cocoa powder is processed with alkali, which essentially destroys most of its nutritional value.  Plus, conventionally grown cocoa beans are one of the most heavily sprayed crops on the planet, often with pesticides that are banned in the U.S., making it essential to only consume organic and ethically grown cocoa.  This begs the question:  Why do they feel the need to color their “beef” brown anyway?

8.  CARAMEL COLOR

What Taco Bell Says:  The caramel color “is caramelized sugar, which is a commonly used food coloring (also found in cereals and pancake syrup)”

The Truth:  There are four types of caramel coloring used by food manufacturers, and two of these are processed with ammonia.  These two dangerous forms of caramel coloring are classified as III and IV, and they contain 4-methylimidazole, a chemical that has been shown to cause cancer.  This type of caramel coloring is added to Pepsi and many other food products like some pancake syrups, so it is crucial that we find out which classification of caramel coloring Taco Bell uses.  So, what type do they use?   

Well, we don’t know. Taco Bell still won’t tell us.

As soon as the news broke last week, my team and I contacted Taco Bell. We called their customer service number, sent website contact forms, emails and Tweets.  The representatives that we talked to at Taco Bell did not know what type of caramel coloring they used.  So far – we received one response to a website contact form that we submitted – and as you can see, they haven’t answered our question:

Taco Bell Email.jpg

Taco Bell states that they “go to great lengths to be open about the ingredients we use, and want you to know the truth”. Following the recent lawsuit against them, the CEO of Taco Bell stated several times that he wished that the Plaintiff had simply contacted them to get information about their beef ingredients. Well – I’m here to tell ya that based on my experience here, it’s not that easy to get detailed information from Taco Bell about their ingredients! They did respond to my tweet on Friday, which was awesome, but I have yet to hear back from the person they had me call. When someone from Taco Bell does get back to me, I will be sure to update you all here.

Taco Bell Tweets

6/16/2014 Update: After several conversations with Taco Bell’s Head of Communications, I was able to finally confirm Taco Bell uses “caramel coloring IV” – which means it is the worst kind. This type of caramel isn’t the stuff you make at home by cooking sugar. This caramel color is manufactured by heating ammonia and sulfites under high pressure, which creates carcinogenic compounds. Both Consumers Union and Center of Science in Public Interest have studied this chemical and recommended all companies drop this ingredient from their products. Also, in California, it is listed as a known carcinogen. Taco Bell’s statement online about this ingredient is VERY MISLEADING. 

9.  TREHALOSE

What Taco Bell Says:  “It’s a naturally occurring sugar that we use to improve the taste of our seasoned beef”

The Truth:  In all my years of researching food ingredients, this is an ingredient that I’m not familiar with, yet now its on my radar screen. This sweetener has been dubbed Japan’s equivalent to high fructose corn syrup, and it looks like we might be seeing more of this ingredient in the U.S. soon.  Although trehalose is naturally occurring – Cargill is a major manufacturer of this sweetener, producing it from cornstarch in a laboratory.  So, it’s likely derived from GMO corn and heavily processed. My team also contacted Taco Bell and asked for more information on the trehalose they use, and how it is sourced.  So, I will update you here if I get more info. 

Is Taco Bell really being “transparent” here?

While Taco Bell says their ingredients are “common ingredients also found in food items at your grocery store” they keep suspiciously quiet about some ingredients in their “seasoned beef” that could be harmful to your health:

  • Soybean Oil – This is one of the cheapest oils that a restaurant can use, and it is almost always hexane extracted from GMO soybeans. It is also high in omega-6 fat, which according to Dr. Michael Roizen, “causes your arteries to get inflamed, causes your immune system to get inflamed, and decreases your ability to fight infections, decreases your ability to find cancer cells and get rid of them before they cause cancer, and increases inflammation and atherosclerosis in your arteries”

  • Yeast Extract – This is another hidden form of MSG. Again, see Dr. Mark Hyman’s latest book for more sources of hidden MSG.

  • Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate –  These ingredients are really only added to products that contain MSG because they are relatively expensive additives that are ineffective without MSG ingredients.  The presence of them in a product is a strong indication that a product contains hidden MSG.

Here’s the complete list of ingredients – in which I highlighted the ingredients that I’m really concerned about:

Taco Bell Seasoned Beef:

Beef, Water, Seasoning [Cellulose, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Salt, Oats (Contains Wheat), Maltodextrin (Corn, Potato, Tapioca), Soy Lecithin, Tomato Powder, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Sea Salt, Yeast Extract (Contains Gluten), Spices, Garlic Powder, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Potassium Chloride, Cocoa Powder Processed with Alkali, Natural And Artificial Flavors, Trehalose, Modified Corn Starch, Inactivated Yeast, Lactic Acid, Torula Yeast, Natural Smoke Flavor], Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Less Than 2% Beef Broth, Potassium Phosphate, Potassium Lactate

…and what about the BEEF itself?

Yes, I highlighted the beef itself as an ingredient to be concerned about. Taco Bell is on the record saying that they buy their beeffrom the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket, like Tyson Foods”.  To me, this means that Taco Bell beef comes from cattle raised in a factory farm, fed GMO feed and injected with harmful hormones prior to slaughter.  Tyson Foods openly states on their website that they feed their chickens GMO grains, and that is the standard in factory farms in the U.S.  Taco Bell’s parent company – YUM Brands – has refused to take steps to label GMO ingredients on their restaurant menus and has joined forces with the Grocery Manufacturers Association to fight mandatory GMO labeling laws.  It’s really important to know where your meat comes from and if it comes from animals fed GMO feed because GMO DNA has been found in the meat and organs in these animals. According to The Cornucopia Institute, when animals are fed GMO crops, the GMO DNA is “taken up by the animal’s organs and detected in the meat, milk, and fish” and the U.K. Food Standards Agency reluctantly admits that it’s “possible that DNA fragments derived from GM plant materials may occasionally be detected in animal tissues”

…and what about the “Taco Corn Shell” because no one eats the beef by itself. 

Don’t even get me started. Ok fine. I will tell you. But it isn’t pretty. Traditional corn tortillas or taco shells are usually made with corn, salt, water, oil and maybe a little lime. Taco Bell takes this beautiful recipe and wrecks it with TBHQ, and many forms of suspected GMO oils – including one of the worst – cottonseed oil, that is regulated like a textile crop vs. a food crop, meaning it can contain much worse types of toxic pesticides.

The reason I say “suspected GMO oils” is because we’ve asked Taco Bell whether they use any GMO ingredients, and they have yet to provide a statement on GMOs. But if I were betting in vegas on this, I am pretty sure I’d come out as a winner winner, chicken dinner.

Also, if you are daring enough to get the XXL Taco, you’ll be eating parabens, which are endocrine disruptors linked to cancer. If you try the Doritos Loco Taco, you’ll get a nice dose of excitotoxins that can kill brain cells and artificial food dye made from petroleum. 

So what do you do?

Stop eating at Taco Bell. They don’t deserve your money or your health. Instead, try one of these homemade recipes that will satisfy that Mexican craving:

 

If you have a friend or a family member that likes to go to Taco Bell, here’s your chance. Share this post with them and tell them the truth. Don’t let this fast food giant pull the wool over our eyes any longer.

Hope you have a wonderful and happy Cinco de Mayo! 

Vani 

P.S. If you like investigations like this, sign up for my very personal email list where I share breaking information about what’s really happening in the food industry and healthy living tips every week. Xo! 

 

 

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238 responses to “What Taco Bell Isn’t Telling Us About Their Ingredients, But You Need To Know!

  1. This article has some truth to it. However I absolutely disagree. Taco bell is not trying to hide anything or deceive anyone. They never claimed that their food was gmo free and its a fault of consumer education to not realize that glutamic acid is in ingredients other than MSG. These are all ingredients commonly used at the supermarket.

    I appreciate your viewpoint and the research you’ve done on foods, but I don’t think many people thought eating only taco bell bean burritos was a balanced diet.
    Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is important, taco bell isn’t stopping any1 from doing this. We still have alot to learn about individual ingredient effects.

    1. I just wanted to add that I respect the better safe than sorry mindset. I use it when the evidence is inconclusive (most of the time).

      1. The people that allow this to happen are all the consumers. We all cast the most important votes of all, every day, with every purchase we make. I refuse to spend my food money supporting chemists. You cannot look at any of those ingredient lists and tell me a chemist wasn’t involved in the recipe. I don’t eat stuff made by chemists, I eat proper food made by mother nature and a cook. Proper food that was cared for by mother nature and a farmer that is raising meat and veggies without aid from… drum roll please… chemists. And I will try my best not to spend any money supporting those chemists when it comes to my food. And I am grateful we have people like the food babe, willing to do some of the brain numbing work to help educate the masses about all the chemists and genetic engineers working in unison to help poison and kill people in one of the most atrocious experiments since World War II Germany.

    2. I know a lot of people don’t know just how bad our food is now when it comes to additives and fake sh–t. For crying out loud Im a nurse and most the nurses I work with don’t even know. You practically have to be a detective(Thanks Food Babe) to know what your eating these days. And yes Ill bet many people choose taco bell because they believe it to be a better choice. Sure no one thinks it’s health food but I know(from experience) that many think it’s not as bad as other options.
      And yes it is misleading because unless your a food detective you think your eating something with beef, beans, a tortilla or shell, and some veggies. WRONG
      Like Food Babe mentions they even take a corn tortilla which traditionally has 4 or 5 ingredients and turn out a product with 20 fake ingredients. So Sad

  2. Interesting you should only be going after Taco Bell here. The ingredients listed as used by them are pretty much common use items at EVERY food manufacturer on the face of the earth. And, many of them are derived from natural growth foods.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating GMO usage. But, even if we wanted to try to live totally GMO free, it would be virtually impossible to do as a result of cross pollination. You can’t even grow your own Organic vegetables and be guaranteed that they will not contain some GMO DNA. If you think so, you are foolish.

    It’s fine to go after these monsterous corporations that unknowingly (or sometimes knowingly) are creating future problems to try and make them stop. But, please stop giving the impression that by doing so you will rid the world of the issues that currently exist due to what’s already out there.

    1. You are quite the devil’s advocate. Most of the world has banned many of these chemicals in their food, but you seem to think that we should ignore them in our food. Corporations ingeneral will put the cheapest fillers in their products to increase profits unless someone brings it the attention of the consuming public. But you seem to be saying that they are being picked on, just because they are adding cheap and often dangerous fillers. Most of us would rather know these things to reduce the amounts of chemicals we ingest. You eat my share, too.

      1. Kim Z and Ed Jackson. You both make valid points. Kim Z mentions she is not advocating GMO use which I am with and GMOs, toxic chemicals and additives shall be banned outright and she has a point that no matter how cognizant we become and try to avoid that there will be some issue arising.

        Ed Jackson, I also agree with what you said and it is the worst sin what these corporations do and they must suffer karmically for their actions.

        The big question and ongoing frustration is despite the clear good our Vani does with informing us, it creates frustration and borders into bringing neuroticism in our daily life when at times we want to eat out and deserve a break from cooking, have to get fast food as an emergency when in a rush and we don’t have anything on us at the moment or in a reality of happy hours, social gatherings, etc.

        How can we live a balanced, tension free lifestyle without getting so neurotic and end up driving people around us crazy while I also agree it is important to be cognizant? Even if any of us usually steer clear of these ingredients and eat healthy, what big deal is it if we have it just once when we have to get something?

        Most importantly, what are some effective cleansing methods or powerful herbs to take to counteract and ward off any of these toxic ingredients that enter the body if we have them one time in a year or once in a blue moon in cases of emergency late night when it comes to long-distance trips or being in a rush somewhere and needing some food? I always hope for practicality and pragmatism from anybody rather than negligence or extreme rigidity, neuroticism on the other end? What is a good balance? Clearly, it is hard to always predict what may happen later and we don’t ever know what situation will be exposed to and too impractical to be too prepared for anything with something in hand.

        Thanks!

    2. I just want to know if it is true that Taco Bell and other fast food restaraunts use ground up fetuses in their meat. A bizarre question to ask, I know, but I have been doing some research and the dead baby in our food comment has been popping up alot as an ingredient hidden from us.

  3. Petitions are a colossal waste of time!!! Wanna get their attention? STOP EATING THERE!!!

    1. Are you that unaware? Petitions and Food babe’s petitions in general have literally had ingredients removed from foods we buy. Maybe you missed the part where our voices matter.

    2. Yes, stop eating there.

      However, my not eating there does virtually nothing to make a move toward better food. But, educating, warning, protesting, and perhaps raising hell might. It apparently got your attention – and who better to try to convince than people like you?

  4. Yes, Shame on Taco Bell for serving unhealthy ingredients. But I have never said Geez I want something really healthy to eat and then went to Taco Bell. There has to be some common sense some where out there. Be the change you want to see in the world.

    1. Great point. I can so feel you that I would never go to Taco Bell intending on eating something healthy for sure. The big question is how to be proactive when at times we have no food with us and the only option is to resort to a Taco Bell which is of cheap, fast food suitable for NonVeg, Vegetarians or Vegans?

    2. I find it confounding that we live in the largest food producing nation with, theoretically, an educated populace and we don’t believe we should expect healthy food when we eat at restaurants and don’t shop very carefully at the grocery store.

      Who taught us that we have no reason to expect healthy food in a literate, food-producing nation?

      1. I don’t think it was taught but rather gradually over time infiltrated our lives . The large food manufacturers like to keep consumers in the dark. They really don’t care about Joe public unless they are exposed, then they care because it costs them money.

  5. I have worked in the plastics industry. Many chemicals are used for many different applications. Would you believe a type of sugar is used in making plastic? Not everything is cut and dried. The fast food industry was originally used on occasion not everyday. A little won’t effect most people. If you are that anti-additive, grow your own and eat at home.

    1. The reality is that not eating these foods is becoming more and more difficult. For many, by the time they’re a teenager they’ve already consumed and been exposed to a broad variety of additives, poisons, and chemicals that have significant effects.

      What you’re going to find is that tiny exposures throughout one’s life stops being insignificant.

      1. grown up my whole life gorging on all this stuff you claim to be oh so terrible. Me and everyone else I know (the healthiest of us even). Find something better to do in your spare time

  6. I worked at Taco Bell in the 70s. TOTALLY different. We cut and chopped all our vegetables fresh. NOTHING was added to the beef except the seasoning powder. We washed the beans and then cooked them in lard (yes pure lard) but nothing else. Everything was fresh and delicious back then. When they started adding fillers to everything I quit eating there. Too bad they had to ruin a good thing.

    1. I also worked at Taco Bell in the 70s. I first tasted Taco Bell in the 60s. Yes ~ everything was completely different back then. I never stop craving the Taco Bell food from my youth!!!!! The BEANS were SO DELICIOUS!!! The beans now are so gross… reconstituted powdered beans. 🙁 I really especially loved the green burritos and tostadas. The *only* things that came to us pre-prepared were the cans of red sauce and green sauce. The seasoning for the beef was a dry powder in a plastic pouch that we mixed with some water and added to the fresh ground beef as we cooked it. We took turns “sorting the beans”… They came in big burlap bags. We hand sorted out any little rocks or bad looking beans.

  7. I am going to disagree on you on this one. You are majoring in minors. You are missing the most harmful products which are the milk and beef and making a big deal about the micro ingredients. As harmful as they may be animal products are way more harmful for you….Get your facts straight…

    1. What wrong with Milk and Beef? As long as you cook it right, there no harm there…. just don’t add anything you are not suppose to.

      Milk sure made me worse off for it gave me strong and healthy bones.

      1. Actually, cow’s milk (an animal protein) depletes the calcium from your bones, is one of the leading causes of food allergies and usually contains GM DNA and added hormones. Additionally, cows have four stomachs to digest their mother’s milk, unlike humans. “Where’s the harm in that?” is the question you should seriously ask of everything you ingest.

      2. Cows milk was designed by the almighty to put 300 lbs on a calf it’s first year of life, just saying… Btw other all natural ingredients like almonds have calcium in them they can also contribute to healthy teeth and bones. Most of the worlds population do not consume milk. Hmmm how do they manage to live without it? And as for the beef it’s not what your eating, it’s what your eating is eating, GMO corn and left over animal parts, yum makes you want a big beef burrito right now huh?

  8. Go to Chipotle for your Mexican cravings 🙂 our meats are from sustainable sources, are naturally raised, free of hormones, and are non-GMO. In fact the only thing with GMOs is tortilla shells. Which you can bypass by getting a bowl salad or crispy tacos.

    1. Ate there the first time recently , very delicious, very expensive. Still cheaper than a lifetime of medication and Dr. Bills I suppose!

      1. Actually, MY meat, in my restaurant is from local non-GMO sources. So your statement is FALSE.

      2. Actually, MY meat at my restaurant is in fact from local GMO free sources. So my statement wasn’t false, you don’t know what you’re taking about because you don’t run my restaurant.

    2. Alicia are you referring to the Chipotle restaurant chain when you say “your’ restaurant?

      If you are referring to Chipotle, you are sorely mistaken about the meat being GMO free. I wish I was wrong. This is taken directly from chipotle’s website here: http://www.chipotle.com/en-us/menu/ingredients_statement/ingredients_statement.aspx

      “In the United States at this time, most of the grain used as animal feed is genetically modified. This includes most of the grain used to feed the animals that provide our meat and dairy. While we are striving to eliminate GMOs from our supply chain, there is currently not a viable supply of responsibly raised meats and dairy from animals raised without GMO feed. “

  9. Ohmygoodness! I read your posts all the time. You had an earlier post about snack foods and had us all comment our favorites. I commented Garden of Eaten Red Hot Blues tortilla chips, thinking they were so healthy, theyre organic after all!
    But then I read this, and stumbled across torula yeast. It sounded familiar, and as it turns out…its in my red hot blues! This explains my complete love for the taste!
    Well no more!

  10. So, my question is, soy lecithin and some of these other “dangerous” products are found in some Kashi foods and other supposed health foods that are even often labeled GMO free. I know we cannot full trust labeling, but I thought the point of the no GMO campaign was to CORRECTLY label those foods without GMOs in them. Does that mean they DO contain GMOs because they have these ingredients, even though this campaign was supposed to help with false labeling? I am just so tired of food companies not being truthful. 😛

    1. What is wrong with lecithin? It is a phospholipid and naturally occurring. So what if it comes from soy? Eggs have it — that’s what allows eggs to be turned into mayonnaise (an emulsification of fat and liquid). Lecithin is an emulsifier and allows fat and water to “mix” without separating.

      Everything is chemicals. Everything in the earth, solar system, universe can be reduced to its base chemicals. Some chemical combos, naturally occurring or synthetic, are “good”, some not so. Don’t making sweeping generalizations that chemicals are bad. If not for chemicals, we would not even exist.

      I would appreciate this website more if it were referenced as a scientific journal might be. References from reputable, peer-reviewed journals and not quack-quack websites. Separate the rational from the emotional. I don’t take anyone’s word or their conclusions. Half the time people don’t interpret what they read correctly. The other time, you get a knee jerk reaction (like Jonathan below) who is most likely clueless.

      I have never eaten at Taco Bell- I am in my late 40’s. I ate at a few fast food restaurants and decided their stuff mostly tasted like crap compared to the food my mother, then I, prepared- which was made from fresh, whole ingredients and prepared from scratch. I ate a bite of Honey Bun when I was a kid and almost puked. Lard in bread form. Nasty. I’ve never had a toaster pastry. I can’t imagine why people eat that sort of pseudo-food. If I am going to have pastry, it is going to be real pastry — either that I make or buy at a real bakery (not Panera, whose pastries are only a 1/2 step above Wonder bakery quality).

  11. Obviously this person hasnt read Chinese food ingredients…u find all of these ingredients in EVERYTHING. U can’t only jump on 1 restaurant for it when they all do it. Read soda cans! Read every ingredient in stuff then complain about everyone else as well. Just don’t eat there if u dont like it! More then half the population DOESN’T CARE.

    1. I suspect that you’re right about half the population. I also suspect that’s why we are a nation with an obesity epidemic and an incredible health care problem.

      Just not eating there doesn’t cut it. We need to start caring. In order to do that we need people like this author to discuss, debate and educate.

    2. She hasn’t jumped on just one restaurant. She has done it to many and many of them have changed their ingredients. What’s wrong with trying to change things? It’s only going to benefit us. We deserve to eat real food, even if it is fast food.

  12. Ha! Some real azzwipes on here saying that a “little” GMO, chemicals, carcinogens, endocrine disrupters won’t hurt you. Tell the pigs in the Australian doctor’s study that suffered ulcerated and perforated stomachs after eating a “little” GMO soy for only 90 days.

  13. About the corn tortilla shells, you mention “a little lime” which makes it sound like lime juice from the green citrus. This is the actual lime that is used in the processing of corn for tortillas and hominy and other forms. Calcium hydroxide, traditionally called slaked lime, is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Ca(OH)2. It is a colorless crystal or white powder and is obtained when calcium oxide (called lime or quicklime) is mixed, or “slaked” with water. It has many names including hydrated lime, builders’ lime, slack lime, cal, or pickling lime. Calcium hydroxide is used in many applications, including food preparation. Limewater is the common name for a saturated solution of calcium hydroxide.

  14. When I was 19 (which was in 1987) – I worked for Taco Bell. We had to be at the store at 9 am to cook and prep for the day ahead. Why so early you ask? Well, we had to cook two kettles of (big 10 gallon pressure cookers) of beans, cook 50 pounds of meat, shred lettuce and cheese, chop onions and tomatoes, and prep all of the sauces for the day. We also had to cut up black olives, green onions and fill all of the tubes with sour cream. After all of the food prep was done we had to fry all of the taco shells, burrito bowls and tostada shells for the day too. In short EVERYTHING we did was made from fresh produce delivered to the store the previous day. It WAS fresh fast food and it tasted amazing! Yeah I am sure there were still some of the above ingredients in the sauces and such but it was still prepped from fresh food. A few years later I went back to work for another Taco Bell and I was SHOCKED! In place of the huge meat pans and kettles, on the stove there were two enormous vats of boiling water, if you needed meat you threw in a plastic bag or pre-cooked pre-seasoned meat to get hot, if you needed beans you opened a bag of pre-processed dried bean pellets and reconstituted them with hot water, all of the lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cheese were in bags already shredded and ready to go, the shells were all pre-fried and I was disgusted that in just a few short years Taco Bell had gone from Fresh Fast Food to this non-sense.

    1. I also worked there during that time and was going to post the same thing you just did. It was very good, fresh and healthy. Now it just gives me heartburn … I no longer eat there

      1. I worked for Taco Bell when I was a teenager for about 6 yrs. I was a manager. Times have changed. Beans are out of a bag. They’re powder. Add hot water and sit for 30 mins. Beef is in a vaccumed sealed bag and put in a stock pot of water for 30-45 mins to warm up.
        When I first started there, we cut up tomatoes and lettuce. Now it’s all prepacked and out of a bag. GROSS!

  15. Well I use to work for Taco Bell. Their meat comes in precooked and frozen. On the box under the ingredients label, first thing listed was oatmeal, not beef. That says there is more oatmeal than beef. I’m sure they’ve changed it since the law suit opened.

  16. Good we know this Vani, but seriously it gets dysfunctional and off-putting with such when people want to eat out once in awhile in a relaxed way and neuroticism spreads around. I am all about being aware and informed and wish all toxic ingredients were banned right away, but I as a human and like others need to relax and not be swept away with such anxiety, neuroticism and even obsessive compulsive disorder.

    There is also the saying that one accidentally eats any of those toxic ingredients no harm shall be done forvever and even in the most unfortunate cases there are times when inevitably we don’t have any of our own food and resort to some of these fast food places that have ingredients as a last resort as one-time thing in order not to starve or get a headache.

    What is a good method to do such as a daily cleanse, taking of certain powerful herbs or even conventional superfoods which don’t have to be organic to take to counteract any of the toxic ingredients ingested “inevitably and not by choice” even while trying to steer clear of the toxic ingredients?

    Lastly, what do you think of just the organic soy milk with latte by themselves at Starbucks and what are conventional Liquor drinks such as Almaretto that you say are best and free of toxic ingredients?

    It is unfortunate how many of us want the best and yet at times don’t have the power to eradicate right away even despite gazillions of Monsanto protests and lobbying.

    I feel it is best with an understanding and sensibility to always come up with a pragmatic, realistic solution regardless of what happens and trying to work in this direction.

    Thanks for the time and great work and time!

  17. Still eating it…everyone should know by now that fast food isn’t healthy…its not like we’re all suddenly like “OMG i thought it was all fiber and vitamins?!?!”

    Taco Bell is why “cheat meal” (yes cheat meal not cheat day) exists!

    people who do this research and articles need to find a hobby or something better to report on.

  18. If 90% of the corn in the U.S. is genetically modified, and almost EVERYTHING either has corn or a derivative in it…I just ate Taco Bell.

  19. I work for the company and honestly you’re treating this as if Taco Bell is the ONLY unhealthy fast food place. Well, guess what? There’s trillions other fast food places and you’re picking on just Taco Bell. Why not Wendy’s? McDonald’s? Surely, people have a LOT to say about McDonald’s. This article was stupid. If you actually believe fast food of any kind is healthy then that’s on you. I love Taco Bell and I’m glad I work there because the food is great.

  20. We have stopped eating at fast foods, because the foods does not taste right. Not just Taco Bell, this include McDonald, Burger King, Wendy, and more. We have been to all of them and we quit eating it. Vani the foodbabe is right about everything. I am very suspicious of all the company that puts chemical and other bad stuff in foods and drinks to clothings and personal use, when they do know it is making people sick and death. Wonder what’s going on with the company and why are they doing this to innocent people to make them sick or death is very suspicious. The Dr told my sister and ask her this: do you know why there’s so many people in the hospital, he said its the foods, etc. And it is the truth. Vani you rocks!!!

  21. I grew up on a farm where we raised almost all our food, when I married I moved to an island for 18 years where I raised my kids on home grown and home cooked meals, it freaks me out to see people eating so many chemicals and not pay attention to their own health, the only crop I sprayed was pumpkins and they were washed before going out to the market. I’m not saying everyone should go back to the old ways of living (wouldn’t that be wonderful), but at least grow some of your own food, and stop eating fast food, cook your own meals, nobody is “too busy” to cook, it’s takes very little time to make a sandwich at home.

    Fillers are used to extend a pound of hamburger into 1.5 to 2 pounds, chemicals are used for bigger yields, bottom line, big business wants every dime they can take from us, no matter how much harm it causes to the environment and our health and our childrens’ future.

  22. I haven’t eaten any fast food in 30 years. I appreciate their rest rooms on road trips. It would be nice to see a change in their ingredients. I’m not sure I trust them to be up front about their ingredients. There are some companies I will never trust no matter what their label says or how slick their public announcements and publicity is.

  23. Not sure I understand what you are getting at here. Sounds like a lot of sensationalism to me. Everyone is free to buy and eat what they want. Taco Bell seems to be very transparent … even with what you are illustrating. Just because you don’t like the sounds of things doesn’t mean they are bad for you. I rarely see any scientific evidence to support your claims.

  24. I’ve been eating at all fast food restaurants for more than 20 years and it’s very addicting. They just make food taste great. Reading this post and others on fast food gets me thinking, but not enough to where I would think about cutting it out of my diet. It’s food I grew up on. Taco bell in my opinion tastes better than any authentic Mexican restaurant and I live in Texas where an authentic Mexican restaurant is on every corner. They just aren’t that great.

  25. Ask J&B meats in Minnesota who bought all their beef eyes? Taco bell uses them because it makes their meat sweet. Notice that shredded meat in your tacos?

  26. I find it deeply disturbing that many comments here are of the negative bury-your-head-in-sand, accept the greed/corruption status quo.

    It would be comfortably nice to be able to trust our government to look after its constituents’ and taxpayers’ best interests, but that just isn’t possible anymore (if it ever was). There’s too much political machinery in place now to allow vested interests to triumph over the will of the people.

    We cannot afford to keep looking away from what government is allowing the rich and powerful lobbyists to do to us. WE are the majority, yet we allow a venal few to completely circumvent our own vital interests.

    If the Danziger Bridge incident six days after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, in which police killed two unarmed people and wounded another four, didn’t teach the lesson that the authorities are not the friends of the populace, I have to think you’re pretty dense. Those folks were just trying to walk out of a natural disaster-created hell.

    Please wake up folks.

  27. I am 92 years and 4 months old. I walk 3 miles a day and stopped smoking in 1967. I don’t drive anymore because I don’t need to, but I still play chess and I vacation to far off places twice a year. I am active and healthy. It has nothing to do with fast food. I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and I don’t overeat, but I’m not afraid of these Taco Bells and McDonalds cheeseburgers. I’ve been eating that sort of thing almost daily since the 1950s. I’ve never had cancer, or a stroke or a heart attack. All you young people sitting around fretting that some caramel food coloring is going to give you tumors when you hit 30 are just stressing yourselves out. If you do get a heart attack, it’ll be from the stress, not from the modified corn starch in your taco. Stop worrying so much and go out and live your lives.

  28. Watch out, they may just have the chemical, Dihydrogen Monoxide, in those things too! This secret ingredient is in everything we eat, and wether it is safe for human consumption has yet to be studied.

    You deserve a butt rub if you get that.

    And applause if you get that.

  29. don’t like it? don’t eat it! … sure there’s plenty of veggies you weirdos can go eat, just cause YOU do not eat certain things doesn’t mean every friggin place should change for YOU, everyone has something they don’t/won’t eat that doesn’t mean we should all go out attacking every company, there would be no restuarants left in this world, grow up seriously if YOU do not like something then don’t go there.PERIOD.

  30. oh and another thing, why should the rest of the people eating at these places you attack suffer losing flavor and what we like just for YOU? world doesn’t revolve around you sweetness, stop being selfish

  31. Well this makes a lot of sense! I just ate there today for the first time, (I’m 18 years old) I have spent the last 5 hours throwing up everything I’ve eaten today. My body just have just rejected the food but I feel awful. Every time I try to flush it out with water I find myself at the toilet every time. It’s currently 1:53 am I ate Taco Bell around 6:30 and the meat hasn’t even digested it’s just a yellowish clear color, This is the most painful thing I have ever felt, thanks a lot Taco Bell, I won’t be going back!

  32. I used to eat at Taco Bell all the time. A couple of years ago when I read in the news that horse meat was discovered in their beef (and it was in other countries, not the US.) it really turned me off. I haven’t eaten there since.

  33. Those “shells” are called tortillas. There are enough ingredients that turn me away from Taco Bell. Actually, you can expect a lot of bad stuff in all fast foods. TBHQ is not made from butane, but is from petroleum. When you have to use terms like “it appears”, you lose credibility.

  34. Yes, MSG makes you crave more because it tastes good. America is the only country that has any fear of it. It’s funny, because stuff that naturally contain msg (like seaweed!) Are very popular in Japan. A place where people are unquestionably healthier than they are in the US.

    If anything, I see msg as an alternative to all the sugars and high we insist on using in the US, and a small amount of msg goes a very long way. But the assault on msg has even caused the few companies using it in the US to remove it from their foods.

    The myths around MSG being so bad for you also largely have some shockingly racist origins.

    And another key here, msg is bad in high doses. Lots of things are bad in high doses. Use. Sparingly.

  35. You know, concluding an article written to people who eat at taco bell with a list of alternatives to tacos starting with the word ‘kale’ is really hilarious and ineffective.

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