The Truth About Taco Bell's Steak

With the possible exception of McDonald's, few fast food joints have had to dodge as many unsavory rumors about their meat quality as Taco Bell. It's easy to expect that a lot of this has to do with the fact that the taco-themed chain's food is very cheap. This is a good thing when you're in a pinch and have a yearning for a nice, crunchy taco or 16, but it has also spawned some unsavory fast food myths about the quality of Taco Bell meat — or rather, the lack of it.

Back in 2011, things got so bad for Taco Bell's meat street cred that an Alabama law firm took them to court for allegedly serving "meat" that was actually just 35% beef (per NPR). The suit was ultimately withdrawn, and Taco Bell considered their reputation secure after getting out the message that their meat was, in fact, 88% beef, and the rest of the lengthy ingredients list seems to consist of assorted fillers, texture enhancers and spices. 

But that's their seasoned beef, right? Taco Bell also has dishes that are filled with delicious steak, which surely can't be tampered in any way. Or can it? Let's take a look at the truth about Taco Bell's steak.

Former employees allege that Taco Bell steak has its additives, too

Taco Bell removed their soft grilled steak taco from the menu in 2020 (per Business Insider), but fans clamoring for more should probably remember that those cheap (but tasty!) casings were likely not filled with filet mignon. In fact, Eat This, Not That! notes that former Taco Bell employees have insisted that the company's steak is in the habit of developing a "hair gel-like consistency" if you leave it out for a while. This implies that there are more factors than simple beef at play here, and a Reddit thread discussing Taco Bell steak concurs (via Reddit). "I used to work at Taco Bell. We get it shipped to our store pre-made and pre-cut, with a whole list of additional ingredients," redditor Seanpalladino noted. Another user, JReedNet, replies by rattling off the alleged ingredients of a product called "USDA Select Marinated Grilled Steak," which indeed contains beef, water, and an array of seasonings, additives and processing aids that are not unlike those present in Taco Bell seasoned beef. 

Note that this doesn't make the steak any less edible. In fact, it's still quite delicious, and as the whole debacle with the seasoned beef should prove, the fact that a thing isn't 100% beef doesn't make it terrifying. As the unnamed starter of the Reddit thread notes: "It's tender, pretty flavorful. Never get a weird piece of fat or tendon in it." Just don't expect Porterhouse at Taco Bell prices.