American fast food giant Taco Bell is to swap "meat" for "protein" in its menu descriptions to appeal to health conscious taco fans.
The move, which is also being introduced to distance the Tex-Mex restaurant from the horsemeat and ‘pink slime’ scandals, will see diners offered “Power Protein” meals with 20 grams of meat in a less than 450 calorie serving.
The menu was introduced in 40 Ohio outlets on Tuesday after being tested in the company’s California restaurants, but there is no confirmation yet that it will come to the UK’s three stores in Manchester and Essex.
Protein-heavy meals have been launched as part of the company’s stated public commitment to make its food healthier by 2020. "Our customer tastes and needs are evolving," Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed told USA Today. “They want more balanced options.”
Among items on the existing menu, there is a steak burrito which packs 780 calories and the Volcano Nachos, which contain 970 calories and more than half the recommended daily allowance of sodium.
The announcement comes three months after the fast food company was flung into the centre of the horsemeat scandal when ground beef was found to be contaminated at all of its UK locations.
Taco Bell’s UK spokesman, Christopher Fuller, said at the time: "Based on testing we learned ingredients supplied to us from one supplier in Europe tested positive for horsemeat.
"We immediately withdrew it from sale, discontinued purchase of that meat and contacted the FSA [Food Standards Authority] with this information.
"We apologise to our customers and take this matter very seriously."
The chain subsequently promised to test every batch of ground beef when it arrives at its processor and again before it is delivered to restaurants to ensure it is 100 per cent beef.