Why This Ex-Taco Bell Employee Is Warning People To Stay Away From Some Of Its Meat

Sometimes, it can seem like just about every fast-food restaurant has had some sort of scandal involving its meat. For Subway, it was the chain's highly questionable tuna. KFC has faced allegations that include serving raw chicken, a fried rat, fried paper towel, and expired products. And Burger King may or may not have passed off horse meat as beef back in 2013.

There's also the recurring claim that McDonald's uses "pink slime" as a meat filler in its products. According to Business Insider, this pink slime is made up of beef trimmings — basically what's left after all the good cuts of meat are removed — and ammonia. However, an inspection by a member of "Mythbusters" in 2021 revealed that while McDonald's has used pink slime in the past, the chain's burgers are now in fact 100% beef.

Now, Taco Bell might be just as guilty of serving leftover bits of meat being marketed as "shredded chicken."

Taco Bell's shredded chicken won't be missed

In 2011, Taco Bell faced a lawsuit accusing the fast-food chain of serving beef that was more filler than meat, according to NPR. Although the lawsuit was dropped, some people are still skeptical about Taco Bell's offerings.

One self-identified former Taco Bell employee took to TikTok to shed some light on the chain's meats. In her video, she says the ground beef is perfectly good and just has a lot of water and seasoning. The grilled chicken, she says, is also a safe bet. However, the shredded chicken is where things get a bit more questionable. "The shredded chicken is all of the bits of the chicken that you don't want to eat, and I promise you, eventually you're gonna get a bone," the TikToker says (via The Daily Dot). Avoiding Taco Bell's shredded chicken shouldn't be too difficult, though — Taco Bell took it off the menu in 2020.

The TikToker goes on to warn viewers about Taco Bell's steak, claiming it's mostly gelatin. Taco Bell, for its part, denies that claim, telling Newsweek in a statement, "There is no added gelatin in our steak. Taco Bell takes pride in using high-quality ingredients, and we use only USDA-grade select or better for our steak." If you're wondering, select-grade steak ranks just above commercial ungraded steak in terms of quality (via USDA). Regardless of what the steak contains, fans still say it tastes pretty darn good, so maybe that's all that matters.

Fans don't recommend the steak quesadilla

Wide Open Eats, like the now-viral TikTok user, suggests avoiding steak items, including the steak quesadilla. According to some displeased diners, Taco Bell's steak overcooks easily. Dry, chewy steak isn't exactly appetizing — you want that steak tender and juicy. Seasoning helps, but only to a certain degree.

If you can get past the texture, there's something else to consider: the nutrition facts. A single Taco Bell steak quesadilla is 520 calories. And that's before you customize it. Extra cheese, for example, adds 190 calories. The steak quesadilla also has 14 grams of saturated fat and 1,250 milligrams of sodium, making it far from a healthy choice.

Another Taco Bell option you may want to avoid for the sake of your health is the Beefy 5-Layer Burrito. Its 490 calories pack in a whopping 7 grams of saturated fat and 1,230 milligrams of sodium.

Nacho fries are not so fine

Taco Bell's Nacho Fries Bellgrande aren't currently on the menu, but the fries are known to come and go from the fast-food chain. However, if you're looking for nutrient-dense options, this may not be the best choice at Taco Bell.

According to the Taco Bell website, this menu item packs quite the punch, calorie-wise. One order of loaded nacho fries is 710 calories. The Nacho Fries Bellgrande also contain more than 1,400 milligrams of sodium. Just to put that number in context, the FDA recommends consuming only around 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day. When you take in too much sodium, your blood pressure increases. In addition to harming your heart and blood vessels, elevated sodium levels can potentially affect your kidneys and nervous system. 

However, it's not all bad news. Taco Bell is actually one of the healthier fast-food chains out there, thanks to its wide variety of vegetarian and plant-based options. The chain's Veggie Cravings menu features options like the Black Bean Grilled Cheese Burrito and the Black Bean Soft Taco. So if you're avoiding meat at Taco Bell (for whatever reason), you won't go hungry.