Who knew that when we order a Taco Bell “ground beef” taco we would receive a veggie taco in return. We can now confirm and place Taco Bell’s “ground beef” to the long list of American mystery meats alongside hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and lunchmeat. An Alabama law firm, Beasley Allen, is suing the Yum! Brands Inc subsidiary, citing that the claim on Taco Bell advertisements of ground beef is false.

The “ground beef” Taco Bell serves is really a mixture of additives like modified corn starch, maltodextrin, and citric acid. Beef constitutes only 36% of the “ground beef” product Taco Bell puts in it signature creations. This deceptive marketing ploy by the fast-food giant, which unbelievably conflicts with the USDA’s extremely lax laws concerning food labeling, was put on blast by Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz. He took the time to note what is in Taco Bell’s meat filling:

Beef, water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.

Diaz makes a great point about why American’s need full disclosure when purchasing even the cheapest of products: “The problem here is that the consumers may believe that this “meat filling” is beef, while it’s not. If it looks like beef, it’s labeled as beef, and it’s advertised as beef, then it must be beef.”

A popular vegan “franken-meat” called Texture Vegetable Protein (TPV), which is used to make fillings for tacos, Sloppy Joe’s, burritos, and hamburgers, contains most of the other 64% of Taco Bell meat filling. It is marketed as a vegan alternative to meat, but left up to Taco Bell publicists, they would market and sell it as “Green Beef.”

Why would Taco Bell do this? It seems you cannot offer cheap food items without using federally subsidized products like corn, grain, and soy. The majority of processed meat products contain some sort of additive to keep the “meat” on the shelf longer. I do not think anyone should be surprised that Taco Bell is cutting corners to provide people with the cheap food they demand.

Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands Inc. is world’s largest fast-food company, currently operating in over 100 countries and territories. Companies to do not grow this large without consumer support and huge government subsidies. They understand that people without any access to fresh produce or the time to prepare whole foods will have to eat whatever they serve them -– it’s the price we pay for affordability and convenience.

It looks like it’s time for Americans to push The White House to help us grow our own food, so we don’t run into these scandals that seem to pop up every couple of years.

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