Taco Bell recognizes consumers’ growing food supply concerns, including animal welfare and antibiotic resistance. Building upon its commitment to making its beef more sustainable from January 2019, Taco Bell has committed to reduce antibiotics important to human health* in its U.S. and Canada beef supply chain by 25% by 2025. This new policy around its dominant menu protein, beef, will better protect human, animal and environmental health.
As part of this new policy, Taco Bell will also give preference to suppliers that are making measured reductions in their use of antibiotics important to human health, as defined by the World Health Organization, as well as suppliers that increase veterinary oversight when it is required to medically treat sick animals. Preference will also be given to suppliers that participate in the Beef Quality Assurance system. Taco Bell will reinforce this commitment to beef quality by partnering with key experts and collaborating in industry-wide efforts, including participation in the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and the Center for Disease Control’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge. Taco Bell will share progress against these goals in 2022.
*Antibiotics important to human health are those defined as “critically important,” “highly important,” and “important” according to the World Health Organization’s Critically Important Antimicrobials for Human Medicine, 4th Revision, 2013.
Since 2014, we’ve been working with our partners and suppliers to identify an approach to antibiotic use in chicken that maintains the benefits and helps reduce the use of antibiotics overall, protecting both animal and human health. We are proud to serve chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine (1) in all our U.S. restaurants since the end of March 2017 from suppliers certified by the USDA Process Verified Program. Internationally, we support the Yum! Global Position on Good Antimicrobial Stewardship.
(1) Antibiotics important to human medicine are those defined as “critically important,” “highly important,” and “important” according to the World Health Organization’s Critically Important Antimicrobials for Human Medicine, 5th Revision, 2016.
When we committed to serving 100 percent whole cage-free eggs in all U.S. Taco Bell restaurants, we said we’d do it by the end of 2016. And we did, at record pace. We’re proud that our eggs come from hens raised in an open environment where they can feel comfortable and display their natural behaviors. Since then, we expanded our commitment to serve 100% cage-free egg ingredients across our entire menu in all U.S. and Canada restaurants, including limited time offerings, meaning our avocado ranch sauce, creamy jalapeno sauce, spicy ranch sauce, creamy chipotle sauce and even Cinnabon Delights are made using cage-free egg ingredients.
We get that you want big, bold flavors, but you also want food with ingredients you can understand. In May 2015, we announced our commitment to simplify our food by removing artificial flavors and colors, added trans-fat, high fructose corn syrup and unsustainable palm oil from core menu items. Sound like a lot? It is. We made those changes in 2015, and we aren’t stopping there. In 2018, we removed preservatives and other additives from our food, where possible.
Since 2008, we quietly reduced sodium by 15 percent on average across our menu. We’re not done yet. By 2025, we’re pushing ourselves to grow that number by an additional 10 percent. Don’t worry, we’ll still deliver the same bold flavors that you love from Taco Bell.
At Taco Bell, vegetarians are not an afterthought. We’ve got 50 years in our pocket making a mean bean burrito. And now we’re the first quick service restaurant with a menu certified by the American Vegetarian Association (AVA). We have 15 AVA-certified menu items, 34 vegetarian ingredients available through the balance of the day (including reduced-fat sour cream and avocado ranch sauce) and nearly 1 million vegetarian customizable combinations. Vegans – we even have 24 certified vegan ingredients to choose from through the balance of the day, including our black and pinto beans. During our breakfast hours, we have 16 vegetarian breakfast ingredients to choose from (9 of which are also vegan).
We and our franchisees serve over 42 million customers each week across our more than 7,000 U.S. restaurants. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of food. With such a large footprint, we recognize our responsibility to make strides towards waste reduction and constantly ask ourselves how we can feed people instead of landfills. Currently, less than 3% of Taco Bell sales are comprised of waste, thanks to diligent team members trained on how to best project and prepare how much food is needed.
While we never advertised directly to children, in July 2013, we made the bold move to remove kid’s meals and toys from our menu – and we were the first quick service restaurant to do so. We’ve since been able to focus on more of the craveable creations you love, in a range of portion sizes and flavors, to meet the needs of all of our consumers.