'Secret recipe' dies in Taco Bell ground beef battle

'Secret recipe' dies in Taco Bell ground beef battle

Earlier this week, I wrote a short article about a California class action lawsuit against Taco Bell. The suit alleges that the company's ground beef doesn't adhere to a consumer's reasonable expectation of what would constitute ground beef. My point in covering the lawsuit was to demonstrate how consumers increasingly care about what is in their food and will sue over what they perceive to be false advertising claims.

Today, I received an e-mail from Taco Bell's public relations department outlining the company's response to the lawsuit and onslaught of negative media it has generated for the fast food giant's parent company, YUM Brands! "We stand by the quality of our seasoned beef 100 percent," Taco Bell President Greg Creed said in a statement.

Not surprisingly, the spotlight on Taco Bell's seasoned beef has forced the company to reveal the "secret recipe" for its menu staple. Here it is (drum roll, please):

"We start with USDA-inspected quality beef (88 percent)," Taco Bell says. "Then add water to keep it juicy and moist (3 percent).  Mix in Mexican spices and flavors, including salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, sugar, garlic powder, and cocoa powder (4 percent). Combine a little oats, caramelized sugar, yeast, citric acid, and other ingredients that contribute to the flavor, moisture, consistency, and quality of our seasoned beef (5 percent)."

So, now the secret is out and, once again, a large company has learned that transparency is becoming the price of doing business in the food world.

This all reminds me of something advertising-executive-turned-consumer-advocate Alex Bogusky  told Nutrition Business Journal recently. The "obsolete notion of secret ingredients in food," he said, represents the shift that is occurring from corporate to consumer power. "Secret ingredients point to the old power," he said. "The new power is in transparency."

Amen to that!

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