A photo of a Taco Bell employee licking a stack of taco
shells is circulating online, and Taco Bell is trying to do damage control.
The photo appeared on the Consumerist website, a subsidiary of Consumer Reports. The photo was initially posted to Taco Bell's Facebook feed.
The photo shows a man in a Taco Bell shirt, holding a stack of about 30 taco shells. His tongue is directly on some of the shells, and he appears to be in the process of licking at least some of the shells in the stack. The photo on the Consumerist website has an orange strip over his eyes to provide some measure of anonymity.
Taco Bell posted a response on its website on Monday, saying it learned of the photo on Sunday.
The company has zero tolerance policies for any violations of food handling procedures, according to its statement. The employee violated the company's food handling procedures, the statement said.
Having said that, the statement goes on to say the employee in the photo took the picture as part of a company contest, in which employees could, "submit for approval photos of themselves enjoying their first bite of the product." The photo, however, was unacceptable according to contest rules, and was never submitted.
The taco shells were also scheduled to be thrown out, according to Taco Bell. The shells were never served to customers, and were sent to the store for training for employees to practice with prior to the launch of a new menu item.
The employee was suspended as soon as the franchise became aware of the photo, and is in the process of terminating him, Taco Bell said in its statement. The person who took the photo also no longer works at the restaurant.
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