Taco Bell’s Latest PR Move: Quietly Reducing Salt In Its Food

It's a baby step towards being more healthy.

taco bell emojiHave Taco Bell fans noticed a change in their meals over the past few years? Turns out the chain has been quietly lowering the amount of salt in its food, 15 percent on average since 2009.

According to Yum! Brands CEO Greg Creed, “What we haven’t done is toot our horn. No one out there suspects we have done it because we haven’t changed the taste.” The company would like to expand this to 20 percent of menu items at Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut by 2020.

At a time when companies will tout any and everything — from good works to the smallest shift in policy or perk — it’s unusual to hear that a company is doing something that would earn widespread approval long after the program began. In all likelihood, the company wanted to taste test it all out and examine the logistics before making any promises. Now, with the plan and strategy in place, they can reveal the intentions. There are critics.

“Even though the Steak Burrito Supreme now stands at 1,090 milligrams of sodium instead of 1,340, that much salt in a single blast is still not good for you, said Michael Jacobson, co-founder and executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest,” USA Today says. The body only needs 200 milligrams. So yeah, still salty.

But there’s an argument to be made that the company didn’t have much of a choice these days and may have been getting out in front of a trend in the restaurant business. We’ve been getting a lot of information about what goes into McDonald’s food through its clips about French fries and McNuggets. Those clips were inspired by the growing competition from Chipotle, which has focused on ingredients in both its marketing and its food policies.

So before it gets stung for not talking about what goes into its menu items, it looks like Taco Bell decided to come right out and say that its taking measures (albeit small ones) to make things more healthy.

The question is whether the company has done enough. Under normal circumstances, we would say no. Salt is still a real problem for the menu and, by extension, patrons. However, Yum! is drawing in consumers with things like the Double Down Dog, a hot dog wrapped in fried chicken. And Taco Bell was just recently giving away Doritos Locos Tacos. This is a company that isn’t branding itself heavily with a “freshness” or “wellness” message and isn’t being harmed by it.

So the bare minimum may, in fact, be good enough in this case.