Taco Bell Taco Meat: Only 36% Actual Meat

That’s the take away from this particular story:

Alabama law firm Beasley Allen has filed a class action lawsuit against Taco Bell that claims the chain is falsely calling its taco filling “seasoned beef” and “seasoned ground beef” when allegedly the mixture, which would be more properly called “Taco Meat Filling,” only contains 36% beef.

Somehow, I’m not surprised.

FILED UNDER: Open Forum,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. sam says:

    Hey! Not unlike the political substance of S…hell, nevermind.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Depending on what the other 64% is I find this oddly reassuring.

  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Sam we kinow what you mean. What is it S…. advocates for you disagree with? Don’t you believe in the Constitution? How about the idea of limited government? Do you have a problem with the idea of free enterprize? How about the idea of American exceptionalism? You know Sam, if it were not for America you would have had to learn how to speak German before you went into the gas chambers. So Sam, you criticize Palin nearly daily. What is it she stands for that you do not? Liberty?

  4. jfoobar says:

    I had the (not entirely) unfortunate experience of working for Taco Bell on three different occasions when I was in high school and college. When I first started working there in in 1986 all the way through my last stint there in the early 90s, the definitely made their ground beef out big bags of 100% ground beef, mixed with a paste that contained a powdered seasoning blend and water. Sometime around 1992, they changed things entirely, replacing the large stoves with basically a machine that a large volume of water at just below a boiling temperature. Instead of big bags of ground beef, they started supplying stores with pre-seasoned, pre-cook 5 pound bags of the taco meat. After that, I doubt anyone who worked there could vouch for what was in it, although I don’t remember there being much of taste difference.

    The thing that was pretty gross was how they replaced the refried beans, which were once made fresh every day with dried pinto beans, with these instant bean flakes that sort of looked like burnt corn flakes. You soak them in really hot water and let them sit in a heat cabinet and stir them every once in awhile and eventually they would start to resemble something vaguely similar to refried beans, more of a bean-flavored gruel.

    The whole idea was to cut costs by removing almost all the “kitchen” functions from a Taco Bell. Lettuce came pre-shredded, cheese came pre-grated, onions came pre-diced, chicken and steak came pre-cooked and pre-seasoned, most of the taco shells came pre-fried, and so on. When I left to get a real job in ’93, they were at least dicing their own tomatoes and making the pico de gallo (aka “fiesta salsa”) fresh but that was about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t do that anymore either.

    There you have it, way more than you wanted to know. Hopefully, I at least exorcised a personal demon or two.

  5. sam says:

    I’d bet that the other 64% consists in large part of some kind of soy thing.

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    Shorter Zelzie-poo: Sarah Palin stopped the holocaust.

  7. sam says:

    “The whole idea was to cut costs by removing almost all the “kitchen” functions from a Taco Bell.”

    I grew up in LA where, I think, Taco Bell started. When I was a kid and used to eat at them pretty regularly, my memory is that they served up some pretty good tacos. Now, if you weighed 1 billion TB tacos, I’d be surprised if the weight difference between any two was greater than a microgram.

  8. JKB says:

    Are people surprised? Have you seen their prices? Have you seen their taco meat like product. Have you read the side of some pre-packaged food? If you click through you find that they use fillers, flavor and texture enhancers, etc. for the rest. Now the question you don’t want to find the answer to is just what part of the flesh of cattle is in the 36% beef.

    As for everything coming heat and serve, well, labor is the big cost. Save on labor cost, sell cheap.

  9. John Burgess says:

    JKB: I’m happy with eating animals from head to toe, so that doesn’t really bother me in the least. In my fridge right now, you’ll find head cheese and pig tails and feet. The stuff other people turn their noses up at often turns out to be the tastiest of the lot, once you know how to cook them and get over the vapors that it isn’t loin.

    You want a recipe for pig’s ear? Stomach? Uterus? Just ask.

  10. Steve Plunk says:

    I just hope they keep ’em nice and greasy. That orange taco grease slidin’ down your fingers is what a Taco Bell taco is all about. Maybe if I join the class action suit I can get some free tacos.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Today, like every other day, is a good one to be a vegetarian.

  12. Tano says:

    Well, at least they have some truth in advertising at one level – as the picture at the top of this post demonstrates, they are rather up front about being in the dog food business…