The Beef with Taco Bell A Lack of Understanding


Media Outlets have been ablaze recently after a lawsuit by Alabama law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles was filed against Taco Bell.

Attorney Dee Miles said the meat mixture contained just 35 percent beef, with the remaining 65 percent containing water, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent and modified corn starch.

I don’t mean the following to be taken as a defense of Taco Bell’s menu. There’s plenty of problems that you could point to. But to attack them for the meat content of their meat by weight is crazy and illustrates a common misconception many people have regarding the nutritional profile of the foods they eat.

You see, one only compares amounts by weight like this when they’re confused or they’re trying to be deceptive.

Before we dive into Taco Bell, by way of example, lets look at a famous perpetrator of weight manipulation. The Milk industry.

A cup of whole milk has 147 calories with 8.1g of fat.

A cup of 2% milk has 122 calories with 4.9g of fat.

They call 2% milk 2%, because it sounds better, and makes people think that it only has 2% of the fat of whole milk. But in reality it has more than half the fat of whole milk. What’s up with that? Well, the percentage in skim has nothing to do with the fat content in whole. In skim milk, the weight of the macro, fat, is 2% of the weight of all the calories in milk. Whole milk is 3.25% fat. So really, whole milk should be called 3.25%, but then 2% wouldn’t sound all that healthy, would it?

Now lets think about the 35% beef in Taco Bell.

People are upset about this 35% beef scandal because they hear “35% beef” and assume that means there is a mystery meat in there that accounts for the remaining 65%, the majority of the nutrients. That simply isn’t the case. When discussing the makeup of a food, you look at the percentage of calories from each macro nutrient. Weight has nothing to do with it.

Here are the main ingredients in Taco Bell’s beef:

Meat, water, isolated oat product, salt

Ingredients are listed in order of prevalence. By the time you get to salt, the quantities are minuscule. Meat and water, therefore, are what makes up most of Taco Bell’s beef mixture. Where does the majority of the calories, thus nutrients, in their beef come from? It comes from beef.

The people behind this lawsuit are looking at the Taco Bell product by weight, instead of

by proportions of calories in each macro nutrient. The protein and fat in their beef mixture is coming from BEEF. The majority of the mixture’s weight is probably water, but almost all of the nutrition is coming from beef. not some strange concoction. In fact, all Taco Bell needs to do is release the nutrition information for their beef mixture and compare it to 100% beef . There would be very little difference.

Looking at food items by the weight of each macro provides little, almost no, useable information. Taco Bell’s meat is not mystery meat. It’s beef. That is where your calories are coming from when you eat it.

So remember, when people are comparing foods by weight, they are trying to trick you or are uninformed. Either way, they should not be listened to. This lawsuit should, and probably will, be thrown out.