Taco Bell Is Taking Artificial Additives Out Of Its Food, And That's Definitely Good News
If there's one thing Taco Bell is known for, it's their decadent fast food options. They've unrolled menu items like Waffle Tacos, tacos with giant Doritos for shells, the lovechild of a burrito and a quesadilla, and even rainbow donut holes — but now they're going in a healthier direction: Taco Bell just released a new set of ingredients standards, specifying that they would be removing artificial coloring, flavoring, added trans-fats, palm oil, and high-fructose corn syrup from its menu items by the end of 2015. “In all cases, they will be replaced with natural alternatives,” the chain commented in a press release. As to what motivated them to make these changes, Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol told BuzzFeed that they're “committed to being a brand that people can truly champion and trust."
Adding to the good news is this: The chain will not be raising food prices because of these changes, even though using healthier alternatives will make food production more expensive. But, it should be noted that not all of Taco Bell's menu items are going to be going through this natural transition; beverages and co-branded items such as the Cap’N Crunch donut holes will continue to be full of the artificial preservatives our tastebuds are already familiar with.
Many other fast food chains have been making similar changes lately; Subway and Panera Bread, for example, are also getting rid of artificial ingredients in their food. Today, Pizza Hut also announced they're removing artificial colors and flavors from their pizzas in just two months. It should be noted that Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are both owned by Yum Brands, which also owns KFC — could changes like these be coming to the Colonel's territory next?
However, if you're excited about the potential health benefits of these menu changes, you might not want to get your hopes up too high. John Coupland, who is professor of food science at Penn State, is skeptical; said Coupland to BuzzFeed, "I don’t think it’s likely having an impact on the nutritional quality of the food you’re eating.” Even though there's a lot of what he called "chemophobia" in the food industry, artificial ingredients aren’t necessarily worse for your health than natural ingredients. So these nutritional changes might not actually matter that much in terms of health.
Even the Taco Bell Food Innovation Officer's comments around this were vague.“There are things that are good and things that are bad, and that’s not for us to debate,” Liz Matthews said to BuzzFeed. “We’re just here to listen to our customers and they want less in their food and they want simpler ingredients and that’s what we’re doing.” She also added that Taco Bell has been making these changes for the past decade, but just hasn't marketed them publicly. Regardless, memorable taste is still the priority for them: “We want to make sure the replacements aren’t sacrificing anything for our customers, because we know they come to us for the experience and bold flavors,” said Matthews.
So while Taco Bell's changes might not have any positive effects on your health, you can ensure they're listening to your feedback. Keep that in mind the next time you want Taco Bell to make changes to it's menu.
Images: Taco Bell/Instagram (4)