Taco Bell reveals mystery ingredients in ’88 percent beef’

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Back in 2011, Taco Bell responded to a lawsuit that claimed their beef was “fake” by revealing their beef is 88 percent beef. Since then, many have asked “What’s the other 12 percent?”

Taco Bell recently added an explainer on its website to explain the “other 12 percent.”

While the company admits the ingredients that make up the 12 percent have “weird names,” they assure customers the ingredients are all safe and approved by the FDA.

“They’re common ingredients also found in food items at your grocery store,” the company states on its website. “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.”

The company also specified the company only uses USDA-inspected 100 percent premium beef.

Here’s the full list of ingredients and explanations from Taco Bell:


“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.”


“This is a form of yeast that gives our seasoned beef a more savory taste.”


“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.”


“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.”


“Well, we use them to help make sure our seasoned beef is the right texture. They’re also commoWell, 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.nly found in deli items, cheeses, coffee drinks and desserts.”


“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 caramel colorĀ 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.”


“It’s a naturally occurring sugar that we use to improve the taste of our seasoned beef.”


  • gmo

    The 12% is not good. Corn, soy and sugar are gmo foods that are unsafe, along with ingredients that causes cancer in rats…..The caramel coloring and the sodium phosphate. But the worst thing about this is the sugar. You think when you are eating a taco, that you are not having sugar. So if you are on a no sugar or low sugar restricted diet, there is hidden sugar here…..pretty disgusting……


      I’m right there with ya on this one, Mr/Mrs GMO! People scoff at me at the time for being so picky as to what I’ll eat, but let um, as I don’t really care what they think – while they stuff their faces with Mickey D’s and the like. And I haven’t eaten Fast Food in over 43 yrs now. But the price of eating as healthy as possible is VERY costly these days! And some what of a chore to make sure that food sellers aren’t trying to dupe ya! But it’s all worth it! Selah

  • K Stallings

    well I guess I won’t be having any beef products from Taco Bell anymore…cocoa powder? really? Believe it or not, some of us actually cannot have cocoa/chocolate products of any kind due to particular health conditions which cause our bodies to be sensitive to these products….come on Taco Bell you do not have to use some of the items on this list!

    • Kelley

      Then you are probably don’t eat the garbage served at other fast food outlets either, because if you think it’s all free of these same additives then you have your head in the sand. People with food allergies must be responsible for themselves.

  • B

    And then you have the ground beef that comes from hormone injected cows that feed on grain laced with chemicals.

  • Sandra D.

    If you don’t like it then simply don’t eat it and if you have not had a allergic reaction to the beef yet geuse what I really don’t think you will now knowing it’s there.

  • Taylor Martin

    and thats why I do not eat at Taco Bell, guess they never stopped to think that people may have allergies to most of the additives they put in their products.

  • Cheerios

    People with food allergies should most definitely not be eating out or going to places that do not list the ingredients…..if your not eating at taco helll anymore because of this report and having food allergies, may as well hang your coat up for life when it comes to going out to eat because I would bet all places have these additives as well.

  • Britt

    Funny, people are so appalled yet would find these same ingredients in most of the food sitting in their fridge they bought from the grocery store. And if they do their research on the “real hamburger” they buy from that same store, its not much better anyways. Its fast food people, you get what you pay for.

  • Mark Stabler

    Do you think that high priced resturants don’t use many of these same ingredients. Most expensive steak houses marinate their beef and certainly not all of the beef comes from cattle that have never been subjected to altered feed or raised on land that has not been fertilized. Many vegetables have added ingredients to enhance their flavor, including sugar, salt, oils, herbs, onions, etc. If you have food allergies the only way to ensure that you are not subjected to those ingredients is prepare it yourself and read and re-read the products you use.

  • C

    So what they are actually admitting these are the ingredients that most Fast Food restaurants include in their foods! These are the ingredients that are so addicting and unhealthy – these ingredients are the cause of the Fast Food obesity in the United States today. This is why many children will not eat anything but Fast Foods. Just my two cents.

  • Montana_Don

    Obviously a vast misunderstanding here – 99% of that 12% is **FAT**. Look at the packages in the supermarket or the grocery ads. They talk about 72%, 78%, 85% 90% hamburger routinely.
    The vast majority of hamburger used in fast food hamburger is around 72% because that is best for production grilling.

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