The Sketchiest Ingredient Used In All Taco Bell Burritos

If you've been on the Internet long enough, you may have heard of certain fast food horror stories. These aren't stories about bad customers or terrible bosses but rather grotesque and downright disgusting rumors about what exactly is in your food. We mean no disrespect or are insinuating any sort of unsavory behavior to any restaurant. This is not meant to preach to you or terrify you. There are, however, claims made by Internet users and fast food opponents that hint toward stomach-churning ingredients hidden in your burgers or tacos.

McDonald's, for example, has long been the subject of a "pink slime" rumor. "Pink slime," according to CNBC, is "lean beef trimmings treated with ammonia" and used in everything from burgers to the famous McNuggets. McDonald's has, of course, denied that pink slime has ever been used in their products, going so far as to call it a myth. Men's Health became suspicious when Burger King announced it was banning 120 artificial ingredients such as "aluminum,  ammonium sulfate, and a silver nitrate and hydrogen peroxide solution," with the outlet wondering why such ingredients were ever present.

Even Taco Bell is not safe from having some rather unique secret ingredients in its food. While some may not have ever heard of cellulose, you may have seen something similar to it before — in the form of wood pulp.

Does Taco Bell really have wood pulp in its burritos?

A 2014 report from Quartz discovered that a wide variety of companies, ranging from McDonald's to Carl's Jr. to Taco Bell, were using "microcrystalline cellulose" in their products. Author Devin Cohen very bluntly describes cellulose as "wood pulp." Although McDonald's and Burger King took first and second place, respectively, for having the most "MCC" in their food, Taco Bell still had an alarming nine menu items with cellulose as an additive.

Does this mean that every time you had a burrito at Taco Bell, you've been consuming beef-flavored sawdust? Not exactly. Refinery29 describes cellulose as being composed of "oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon," which makes it "the most abundant organic compound on earth." Slate even explains that cellulose, despite the jarring concept, is actually widely common in a variety of foods, such as bread and dairy products. The reason it's used so much is that it works as an anti-clumping agent, preventing unpleasant textures without affecting the flavor. Wood pulp is a common source of cellulose, but rest assured that you're not eating wood when consuming Taco Bell's seasoned beef.