Wednesday, January 26, 2011

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

I recently submitted this mantra (post title) for the second edition of Michael Pollan's collection of Food Rules and share it with you today in light of the class action lawsuit against Taco Bell. For those of you who haven't heard about the controversial "meat filling," allow me to summarize.

An Alabama law firm is suing the chain for falsely advertising the substance formerly known as "taco meat filling" as "meat" because the filling is actually only 36% meat and according to USDA standards, "meat" has to be at least 40% meat to be called meat. Yes, only 40%. Eww.

The firm isn't asking for money, just a correction. Want to know what makes up the other 60-64%?

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.
Mouth-watering, huh? If you stopped reading that pile of ingredients at maltodextrin, consider visiting this great post on Buzzfeed for an entertaining visual interpretation instead.

Although I have taken issue with Taco Bell ever since they started encouraging the "fourth meal" to boost their own sales and their customers' cravings, I don't know which side of this argument I fall on. On one hand, the fast food chain isn't meeting already pathetic standards for labeling and who-knows-what-else but on the other hand, these tacos cost less than a dollar, right? So what can you really expect? A 99% choice beef taco, handed to you through your window after less than three minutes, still hot and (I hear) delicious for 99 cents? That's sort of unreasonable, don't you think?

Once again: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Sorry, chalupa fans. You get what you pay for.


Taco Bell responded to these allegations with the following press release. As usual, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle of the argument. Click here for larger view.

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