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Taco Bell is cooking up healthier menu -- by 2020

by Martha White /  / Updated 

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Is Taco Bell turning its back on its reputation as food to satisfy late-night indulgent cravings?

Not exactly, but the company said it wants to offer diners some healthier options.

On a conference call Thursday, CEO Greg Creed outlined what he called Taco Bell’s “role to play in providing more balanced food choices” as part of the brand's growth strategy.

This means making 20 percent of the chain’s combo meals fall within one-third of the federal government’s daily limits for calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium for a 2,000-calorie diet.

With a target date of 2020 to meet that 20 percent goal, this isn’t going to be an overnight change, although the company says it already has five meal options that meet this criteria.

Seven years might seem like a long time to lighten up a menu, but it's hard to do without customers noticing. Taco Bell cut the amount of sodium in its menu by an average of 20 percent, and that alone took two years.

To meet these latest numbers, Creed said Taco Bell will roll out new, healthier items and will tweak its existing menu.

He pledged that the commitment to offering more healthy choices will be “completely transparent” and “weasel proof,” saying Taco Bell wouldn’t, for example, lower the amount of fat in a dish but add more sodium to compensate.

When asked, Creed didn’t say if Taco Bell would drop the biggest calorie bombs on its menu.

Instead, he said the goal was to try to offer customers more choices. “We’re not going to walk away from who Taco Bell is,” he said.

So don’t worry: Those Doritos Locos tacos aren’t going to disappear anytime soon.

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