Taco Bell says their seasoned beef is 88 percent beef

Says other 12% is their 'Signature Recipe"

DENVER - Taco Bell says their seasoned beef recipe is made of 88 percent "premium beef."

So what makes up the other 12 percent?

The fast-food business' new beef ingredients web page says the rest of the ingredients are used to enhance the taste of the meat. It says many of the items are seasonings and the other ingredients "help make sure the texture is right."

"The very small percentage of oats is used to help our Seasoned Beef stay moist," the company's page says.

And about sodium phosphates: "we use them to help make sure our seasoned beef is the right texture. They're also commonly found in deli items, cheeses, coffee drinks and desserts."

Another surprising ingredient is cocoa powder, which is apparently used to "maintain a rich color."

Taco Bell's web page also pushes back against rumors that it uses sub-standard beef. It says it uses only USDA-inspected, "100 percent premium real beef" and no monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is a flavor enhancer.

The company's ingredient statement page includes full lists of ingredients for all of its products. The list for the "Seasoned Beef" is:

Beef, Water, Seasoning [Cellulose, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Salt, Oats (Contains Wheat), Maltodextrin (Corn, Potato, Tapioca), Soy Lecithin, Tomato Powder, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Sea Salt, Yeast Extract (Contains Gluten), Spices, Garlic Powder, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Potassium Chloride, Cocoa Powder Processed with Alkali, Natural And Artificial Flavors, Trehalose, Modified Corn Starch, Inactivated Yeast, Lactic Acid, Torula Yeast, Natural Smoke Flavor], Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Less Than 2% Beef Broth, Potassium Phosphate, Potassium Lactate. CONTAINS: SOYBEANS, WHEAT.

"We believe it's important that consumers make informed decisions about what they eat, and so for many years have provided details of our ingredients on our website," Rob Poetsch, Taco Bell spokesman, told ABCNews.com.

Taco Bell is owned by Yum! Brands in Louisville, Kentucky. That business also owns KFC and Pizza Hut.

 

-- Here are some of the ingredients and what Taco Bell has to say about them:

(Summary prepared by ABCNews.com)

1. MALTODEXTRIN
"It sounds weird, but it's actually a form of mildly sweet sugar we use to balance the flavor. You may have had it the last time you had a natural soda," Taco Bell says.

2. TORULA YEAST
"This is a form of yeast that gives our seasoned beef a more savory taste," the company says.

3. MODIFIED CORN STARCH
"Actually, it's derived from corn, which is a food staple in Mexican culture as well as many others. We use a small amount as a thickener and to maintain moisture in our seasoned beef. It's common in many foods like yogurt," Taco Bell states.

4. SOY LECITHIN
"When you prepare as much seasoned beef as we do, you don't want it to separate. That's what soy lecithin does. It helps (with moisture) to bind substances that would otherwise separate -- like oil and water. It's a common ingredient in many grocery staples, like chocolate bars and salad dressings," says Taco Bell.

5. SODIUM PHOSPHATES
Taco Bell says it uses this "to help make sure our seasoned beef is the right texture."
"They're also commonly found in deli items, cheeses, coffee drinks and desserts," the company says.

6. LACTIC ACID
Taco Bell says, "This safe acid occurs in almost all living things, and we use a very small amount to manage the acidity to get the right flavor."

7. CARAMEL COLOR AND COCOA POWDER
Taco Bell says the caramel color "is caramelized sugar, which is a commonly used food coloring (also found in cereals and pancake syrup). Cocoa Powder doesn't add any flavor to our recipe, but it helps our seasoned beef maintain a rich color."

8. TREHALOSE
Taco Bell: "It's a naturally occurring sugar that we use to improve the taste of our seasoned beef."

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