Where’s the beef?

So, if you’ve heard the news lately, Taco Bell is being sued because someone was reading labels and decided that having less than 35% beef in your “beef taco” meant that a certain company wasn’t being very truthful in their advertising.
In response to the lawsuit, Taco Bell ran an ad across the country. It was a very bold ad, and as far as I’m concerned the ad made sure that I will never, ever again step foot into a Taco Bell…unless it’s to use the bathroom.
The ad started with the bold headline, “Thank You for suing us.” It then went on to explain why they use additives in their taco product and what is used in their “special recipe.” So why would that bug me? Well, the second paragraph starts off with, “Plain ground beef tastes boring.” Excuse me?
Perhaps they should buy higher-quality meat if they think it tastes boring…or maybe they should take a cooking class or two. Now, granted, not a lot of people would eat browned ground beef without some spices, mainly salt, pepper, onions, etc. And when making tacos, I would think that using taco seasoning would make sense to most.
Here’s my beef: I make tacos regularly for my boys. They LOVE them. I use ground beef and taco seasoning. I use a little water. It tastes GREAT, and in the process I have never used oats, or any other additive that would add a large amount of substance to my meat. And to claim that you have to, in order for tacos to taste good…I have problems with that.
The ad goes on to say: “The only reason we add anything to our beef is to give our meat flavor and quality. Otherwise we’d end up with nothing more than the bland flavor of ground beef, and that doesn’t make for great-tasting tacos.”
Are you kidding me? Seriously? OK, I get that in order to make taco filling in large quantities, they probably add in a little extra here and there to help it stretch. I get that, I do. But don’t blame the beef. Be honest and tell your public that higher-quality beef costs more. That you’re adding other things so that your costs stay lower. Tell them the truth, not some spin.
I’d offer to show Taco Bell how to make a mean taco…without using anything but taco seasoning, some water and some really great-tasting ground beef. But I don’t think they’re very interested in actually improving their recipe.
Well, I didn’t stop at Taco Bell very often, but I will never stop there again. And my suggestion to other businesses in the food service industry…if you find yourself in a bind, don’t blame the ingredients. It makes you look like a fool. And whatever you do…
don’t blame the beef.

7 thoughts on “Where’s the beef?

  1. 35%?? I had seen the original news item re: Taco Bell, but I hadn’t read their rebuttal. I agree – I’ll never go there again either. Home tacos are more fun anyway. I too use 100% beef or ground turkey.

  2. I do use some oatmeal – about a handful per person (2-4) for pound of beef for tacos – to stretch the beef and with *taco* or chili seasoning it isn’t tasted. It also is a way to eat more oatmeal that isn’t oatmeal cereal (and cholesterol results show it works). But I hit on the same response about the beef comment and agree with you completely!

  3. Excellent post Val!

    We eat tacos and burritos regularly, with a few beans, sour cream, tomatoes, some lettuce and hot sauce…enjoying the natural flavor of quality beef. If you start with quality, you don’t need to add “seasoning.”

    Well written.

  4. Val, I couldn’t agree more, carefully source ground beef can have great flavor, especially if the beef has been dry-aged before being ground and the cuts used are quality cuts. Just the other day I showed my mom how ground beef from one ranch/butcher team (Brandon Natural Beef, grass-fed, dry-aged Hereford from Colorado), needed nothing but a hint of salt to have a fantastic, full-bodied flavor with lots of personality.

    Jeff, if you’re talking about your own ground beef, while I’ve only tasted the steaks from one of your beef cattle, I’d think your ground beef would stand on its own, too. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Taco Bell, other fast food chains, and retailers offer source-specific, fabulous tasting ground beef rather than use the meat as a platform for extenders, spices, and sauce.

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