June 4th, 2013
07:30 AM ET
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Update: In response to the viral photo of an employee seeming to lick a stack of taco shells, Taco Bell has released a statement that says, in part:

How Did this Happen?
The taco shells were used for training in March before we launched a new product, and were in process of being thrown out. Two employees, however, used them to take a photo for an internal contest in which company and franchise employees could submit for approval photos of themselves enjoying their first bite of the product. The contest had clear guidelines about what was acceptable and unacceptable. This image was clearly unacceptable – it violated the rules and spirit of the contest, and the employees never submitted it. But an employee posted it on a personal social media page in violation of the franchisee’s policies, and it emerged online in social media.

What we did
We immediately investigated the situation and learned these facts from our franchisee. We are continuing our investigation and our franchisee is cooperating fully.

Our first question was, were the taco shells served to customers? In short, absolutely not. The taco shells were sent to restaurants for training purposes before the new product launch, so team members could use them to practice making the new product before it became available to the public. These shells were a part of that training, were never intended to be served to customers, and were discarded. This is standard operating procedure, and our franchisee confirmed this protocol.

The pictured employee has been suspended, and the company is "in the process of terminating his employment" and the employee who posted the picture "no longer works there."

Delivery guys' unsavory shenanigans go viral
Fast food with a side of shenanigans

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Filed under: Fast Food • Taco Bell • Video • Weird News

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soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. letmeeatcake

    ...it looks to me like he was simply trying to stabilize a stack of taco shells that was obviously too tall for him to carry...it is a shame that the young man was fired...even hardened criminals are given a second chance...

    September 21, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  2. lol kitty cat

    lol kitty cat

    June 17, 2013 at 1:12 am |
  3. cowstastegood

    I get the Mexican Pizza anyway. No harm, no foul.

    June 14, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  4. A_Question

    taco licker? Isn't that slang for a lesbian?

    June 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  5. Lions-Are_Powerful

    Am I the only one who is having HUGE cravings for a hard-shell taco after seeing this guy lovinly lick all these corn-shells?????

    'Cause my mouth is WATERING!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  6. Dave

    Taco Licker no longer works at Ridgecrest, CA Taco bell however, he may be working for the companies' other venture at KFC in the same city. Great now he will be known as the chicken licker.

    June 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  7. kw4life

    That loser should be fined and publicly shamed. How can you go licking other people's food like it's cool? Pathetic.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:29 am |
  8. ian

    Omgsh this story is freaking ridiculous and somebody already made the taco licker tee shirt hahahaha
    I'm so tempted to by this lol

    June 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Mmjk

      You would not think it so ridiculous if you wound up with some disease because of a stunt like that–something serious, like hepatitis. No food seller should ever poison or sicken customers with impunity, except Sweeney Todd onstage!

      June 5, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
      • ME

        Learn to read - it specifically says the shells were discards, not to be sold to the public.

        June 6, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
        • Concerned Eater

          Yes...it does say that. But, do you really believe what it says? If you do, then I'm sorry to say...but, they lied to you!!!!

          June 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  9. Thomas

    Sounds like Taco Bell is taking the appropriate actions.

    June 5, 2013 at 7:54 am |
  10. Mmjk

    I don't believe they did not use those taco shells in a NY minute! Ick!

    June 4, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
  11. JD

    If you think this is limited to Taco Bell and other fast food chains, think again. Concerned eater makes the right point: much of this behavior is fueled by low wages and bitter employees.

    I worked in the food service industry through high school, college, and law school and the rule of thumb I came up with is simple: if employees can not afford to eat at the restaurant employing them (or make minimum wage) then do not eat there.

    Jdizzle, not everyone survives. There are 76million cases of food borne illness each year that result in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5000 deaths. Look up the term "stink palm." I admit readily that I, and many of my former colleagues, have stink palmed change and food when working at Carrabba's, Maggiano's, and even The Palmer House Hilton (hotel's tend to be the worst).

    June 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • ME

      You're not bitter, you're just a bad person with no sense of decency.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
      • moseph

        Thank you! What kind of self entitlement does it take to think its cool to get people sick just becuase they hate their job? You don't have the right ot put others in danger just because your butt hurt about your paycheck. This is fuled by idiocy and apathy, not bitterness.

        June 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • letmeeatcake

      ...remember...what goes around comes around...

      September 21, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  12. Isabella😃

    Eww I'm never eating there again

    June 4, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  13. concerned eater

    People should not be surprised by this kind of behavior at fast food restaurants. The low wages that these companies pay their employees guarantees a workforce that doesn't take food safety seriously. Not only this, but the low level of maturity of the people hired also allow for poor food safety practices. This has been going on for years.... and , It's much more prevalent than the 1 or 2 times per year that the media shows us.... Wake up people!!!

    June 4, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Yet we all still seem to have survived.

      As a consumer, I know going to Taco Bell for lunch carries certain risks with it. What I don't know doesn't hurt me. When my tortilla is used for toilet paper first is where I will draw the line.

      June 4, 2013 at 10:29 am |
      • Mmjk

        You probably have eaten fast food that may as well have been wiped on someone backside–all it takes is one person with unwashed hands.

        June 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
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