In light of recent reports, it’s now very difficult to imagine people passing by Taco Bell without gagging. These reports saying the fast food chain’s beef recipe contained only 35 percent actual beef emerged from an Alabama lawsuit. The rest of the “beef” contained fillers such as water, soy lecithin and anti-dusting agents (added to prevent the creation of dust when certain materials are ground).

The public’s biggest concern is the company’s false advertising. Taco Bell states its taco filling is, in fact, ground beef in commercials; however, according to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards, ground beef must contain 70 percent beef. The lawsuit against the company alleges that this is not the case with the taco filling.

In defense, Taco Bell released statements insisting its beef is actually 88 percent beef, with added ingredients and seasonings.

Taco Bell should be advertising the truth: it serves what can barely be called “taco beef filling,” which is required to contain 40 percent meat. If people want to put such a disgusting mixture into their bodies, then they sure can — but they should at least be aware that their beef taco is actually mostly filler, not seasoned beef.

This is simply revolting. The fact that anyone would want to ingest food processed to the point of it being more soy than meat is mind-boggling.

The recent commotion also raises the issue of processed food standards. That the USDA would allow a mixture of such low meat proportions through to the market is concerning. Taco Bell states on its website that it wishes to “secure lower prices,” and pass those on to consumers. But to what extremes will the company go to get a cheap price? Using less actual meat in recipes surely costs less, but at the expense of food quality and the trust and health of customers.

Rose Berntsen, a sophomore communication major with a certificate in public relations, is turned off by Taco Bell’s quality of food.

“Taco Bell was good, then the last time I had their chicken I literally took one bite and gagged,” Berntsen said.

That’s not the reaction the restaurant is looking for, surely, but that’s certainly what Taco Bell is receiving. It will continue to lose customers and support unless its standards of food are addressed.

Honors College Activities Coordinator Chris Hyer finds the Bell’s “beef” disgusting.

“Taco Bell’s beef is as gross as a selecting a random piece of gum from under the seat on the bus and putting it into your mouth,” he said.

“Taco beef filling” shouldn’t be on the market. Sure, it’s inexpensive and easy, but our food should be more important to us than that.

Berntsen agrees that processed food standards should be higher.

“If they (USDA) can feed it to us, they should be able to eat it and not worry about weight issues, health issues or deep frying,” she said.

Fast food companies should offer higher quality food than they do now. Higher quality will only come from efforts by the institutions that govern the food products consumers receive. The USDA should hold processed foods to better standards than they have in the past.

Taco Bell deserves a lawsuit if it claims to be selling food it’s really not. Misleading commercials serve only to confuse customers into buying something they don’t really want. How typical of an American corporation. But let’s not put the blame entirely on others — people should refuse to accept such low quality standards and demand better quality food.

Do you still eat at Taco Bell?

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