Taco Bell's Ground Beef Isn't 100% Beef, According To TikTok

It's a scary world out there, folks, brimming with dark secrets that fast food restaurants try to hide. One true story that almost sounds unreal? Colonel Sanders hated KFC's gravy so much he called it "wallpaper paste" and said it "ain't fit for my dogs." He made his displeasure so known that Sanders was actually sued by KFC for his comments, but the suit was dismissed, per The New York Times. (The recipe was changed after Sanders sold the company).

More disturbing is another story you might remember: that the coating on your fast food wrappers could be toxic. As it turns out, this is not a rumor, but very much the truth. A 2017 study published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters found that 20% of french fry sleeves, 38% of sandwich wrappers, and 56% of dessert and bread wrappers contained harmful fluorine chemicals, linked to increased risk of cancer, fertility issues, weakened immune system, and low birth weights. 

Perhaps most notorious, though, are claims that fast food animal products are not what they appear to be. Some are more valid than others. For example, one TikTok user's attempt to expose McDonald's meat was a fail, touting long-circulating conspiracy theories. On the other hand, since DNA testing put the authenticity of Subway's tuna into question, the chain has been tripling down on its "100%" real tuna claims. And now, people are once again questioning what's really in Taco Bell's beef, saying a significant percentage of ingredients don't come from a cow at all.

Taco Bell has been pretty transparent about the ingredients

If Taco Bell's seasoned beef doesn't contain 100% beef, then what's in it? A recent TikTok trend asked users to share a secret they learned working in fast food or retail, and one person discussed their time working at Taco Bell. They said that during their tenure, the question of what was in the chain's beef often came up. While the website claims to use 100% ground beef, the intrepid employee decided to investigate. They went into the cooler and checked the ingredients listed on the box, where the label confirmed that it was just 88% beef.

According to Taco Bell's website, the seasoned meat starts with 100% ground beef, prepared "much the same way you prepare taco meat at home" by simmering it, draining the excess fat, and seasoning it with a blend of seven spices. From there, however, the ingredients list also contains additional flavor additives and fillers, including oats, soy lecithin, cellulose (AKA wood pulp), maltodextrin, torula yeast, and modified corn starch. These ingredients have caused controversy for the last decade, prompting Taco Bell to explain their purpose (via ABC). Most are there to maintain its texture, while others are used to balance out sweetness, acidity, savoriness, and color, the brand says, adding that all are safe and FDA-approved.

Likely because the TikTok user's claim wasn't anything new, most people don't seem to be bothered by their reveal. "I eat it anyway," one person said. "I never expected it to be real food."