By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
The VRG received an email from an online reader asking for an update on Taco Bell menu items. She specifically requested the latest information on L-cysteine and enzymes in Taco Bell bread products.
In July 2014 we contacted a nutritionist on the Food & Beverage Innovation Team at Taco Bell. She reported that:
“None of our ingredients contain L-cysteine.”
“Enzymes used in our flatbread and tortillas are microbial- and plant-derived.”
“Sodium stearoyl lactylate, mono- and diglycerides and enzymes in the chalupa shell and flatbread “are all plant-derived.”
Distilled monoglycerides in the tortillas “are all plant-derived.”
An “animal-derived enzyme (cow)” is in all three varieties of the Dorito’s® Locos Taco Shells (Cool Ranch, Nacho Cheese and Fiery).
The following Taco Bell menu items “do not contain ingredients from animal origins”:
- Pinto Beans
- Black Beans
- Mexican Pizza Sauce
- Potato Bites
- Red Sauce
Note: The VRG asked Taco Bell about the five menu items listed above because their ingredient listings contain “natural flavors” or “flavoring” without any more specification. “Natural flavor” or “flavoring” could be used on a label for animal-derived ingredients. Taco Bell told us that all of the flavorings used in the five menu items listed above are non-animal derived.
Readers may consult Taco Bell’s Ingredient Statement for more information on other menu items not included here: https://www.tacobell.com/m/nutrition/ch.ingredientstatement.mobile
“Genetically engineered strains of food yeast” are used to make the enzymes in Taco Bell’s cheddar cheese, nacho cheese sauce, and three cheese blend.
Taco Bell’s nutritionist added this comment about their cheese enzymes:
Today, due to the need for Kosher cheese and the cost of using animal sources, genetically engineered coagulants are used. The genetically engineered chymosin is derived from a modified strain of the dairy yeast Kluyveromyces lactis. It is formulated to coagulate the milk so we can make our cheese without the use of animal coagulants. All of the Taco Bell suppliers use genetically engineered strains of food yeast.
“Enzymes that are a combination of animal- and plant-based” are in the pepper jack sauce.
According to the Ingredient Statement listed on Taco Bell’s website:
Carmine is in the Red Strips.
Gelatin is in the reduced-fat sour cream.
Egg and gelatin are in the chipotle sauce.
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The contents of this information, our website, and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.