When Taco Bell originally told the public its taco filling was 88 percent beef, customers were left wondering – what’s in the other 12 percent?
Well, wonder no more!
Taco Bell recently updated its website to include a list of the “other” ingredients used in their ground beef and an explanation of why these ingredients are used.
“These ingredients are completely safe and approved by the FDA. They're common ingredients also found in food items at your grocery store,” the company website states. “Each ingredient helps make our Seasoned Beef taste great. Many of them are items you might use at home such as salt, peppers, and spices. Ingredients like oats and sodium phosphates help make sure the texture is right.”
Here is a look at some of the ingredients – and what Taco Bell has to say about them:
- Maltodextrin – “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.”
- Lactic Acid – “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.”
- Torula yeast – “This is a form of yeast that gives our seasoned beef a more savory taste.”
- Trehalose – “It’s a naturally occurring sugar that we use to improve the taste of our seasoned beef.”
- Modified Corn Starch – “We use a small amount as a thickener and to maintain moisture in our seasoned beef. It's common in many foods like yogurt.”
- Cellulose – “Cellulose is a safe carbohydrate found in the cell walls of plants and helps with water and oil binding. You'll find it in everything from cheese and vitamins to bread and pasta.”
- Artificial flavor – “We add a black pepper flavor to enhance the taste.”
- Sodium phosphates – “We use them to help make sure our seasoned beef is the right texture. They're also commonly found in deli items, cheeses, coffee drinks and desserts.”
- Potassium Chloride – “Potassium chloride is a common salt substitute used in the food industry. We actually used it to help reduce the amount of salt used in our seasoned beef recipe, which is part of our ongoing effort to reduce sodium levels in our ingredients while still delivering the same great taste you expect from us.”
- Caramel Color and Cocoa Powder – “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.”
Initial public reactions have been mostly positive, though others still struggle with the announcement.
Derek Lowe, a chemist and blogger with a Ph.D. from Duke University, said that while he sympathizes with people who are surprised these ingredients are food, he has "no patience" with the general argument of "I can't pronounce it, so I won't eat it."
"There's nothing on this list I have a problem eating," he told ABC News.
Blogger and agricultural advocate Ryan Goodman explained on Facebook he’s not “sure what people expected from an $0.89 taco.”
“It's not like they're cooking tacos one at a time in your home kitchen,” he points.