Taco Bell Comes Clean About What’s in Their Mystery Meat Filling. Yum?

taco bellAnd now! The answer! To the burning question that's been on all our minds! WHAT IS IN THE TACO BELL MEAT FILLING? Oh fine, maybe it's not such a burning question, and it actually hasn't been on my mind at all. But ever since an Alabama law firm claimed the seasoned beef filling at the fast food restaurant was composed of only 35 percent beef, the big bell has been scrambling to save its reputation. Behold, doubters: Taco Bell seasoned meat is 88 percent beef, the company stated this week. So away with your false aspersions of mystery meat!

Wait -- 88 percent? What about the other 12 percent? There's still a mystery here. Well, haha, funny you should ask. Taco Bell has an explanation for that.


The other 12 percent of the seasoned meat is composed of Taco Bell's "signature recipe." And you can get that recipe on their Ingredient Statement page or right here:


Cellulose (derived from wood pulp and cotton, just passes through your system)

Chili Pepper

Onion Powder



Maltodextrin (thickener made from corn, potato, or tapioca starch)

Soy Lecithin (an emulsifier)

Tomato Powder


Soybean Oil

Sea Salt

Yeast Extract


Garlic Powder

Citric Acid

Caramel Color (hopefully not Caramel III or Caramel IV)

Disodium Inosinate (a flavor enhancer usually derived from meat or fish that gives food an umami taste)

Disodium Guanylate (kinda the same thing as Disodium Inosinate; both are used instead of MSG, though some nutritionists say they're very similar)

Potassium Chloride (a salt substitute)

Cocoa Powder Processed With Alkali

Natural and Artificial Flavors (???)

Trehalose (sweetener derived from fungi and/or insects or, as Cargill puts it, "an ideal ingredient for generating exciting market possibilities")

Modified Corn Starch

Inactivated Yeast

Lactic Acid

Torula Yeast (another flavor enhancing substitute for MSG that lends an umami flavor)

Natural Smoke Flavor


Sodium Phosphate (salt)

Beef Broth

Potassium Phosphate (salt-ish, used to treat kidney stones)

Potassium Lactate (salt from lactic acid)

Yes, that is a very, very long list. When I make Adriana's Special Propriety Seasoned Taco Beef™, I just use beef, chili powder, sea salt, and maybe some whole cumin seeds. (Aw shit, I just gave away my proprietary recipe! Now the world knows.) But keep in mind, 88 percent ain't bad. Take a look at what one study found some fast food burgers are made of. And anyway, at least they're being transparent about their ingredients -- and they're kind of funny about it, as you can see on their "What are those ingredients?" page. That's Taco Bell's special proprietary blend of humor for you.

Do you want this much information about the ingredients in your fast food?


Image via Mike Mozart/Flickr

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