The internet is buzzing over a photo of a Taco Bell employee licking taco shells that was posted on Taco Bell’s official Facebook page Sunday.
BuzzFeed shows Facebook user JJ O’Brien Nolan posted the photo with the comment: “This sure says a lot about your employees, food treatment, and what they post on the internet.”
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) June 3, 2013
The photo has gone viral as people share the photo, and their disgust, on Twitter:
— Naomi Assaraf (@nassaraf) June 3, 2013
— Autumn Perlotto (@Autumnrileyj) June 3, 2013
The identity of the employee is not yet known. The UK’s Daily Mail says Facebook users are speculating the restaurant in question is located in Ridgecrest, CA.
Rob Poetsch, a Taco Bell spokesman, emailed The Huffington Post the following statement: “When we learned of the situation we immediately contacted this restaurant’s leadership and although we believe it is a prank and the food was not served to customers, we are conducting a full scale investigation and will be taking swift action against those involved.”
Poetsch also said the company has “strict strict food handling procedures and zero tolerance for any violations.”
The Consumerist notes that some are defending the employee in the comments below the Facebook photo. One person said: “I know that he is not dumb enough to lick a stack of taco shells and then serve them to the public… There is a 99% chance that that stack of Tacos was getting thrown out, as in: getting thrown away, so it’s not as if they were going to be served to anyone.”
Another woman claims to be the photographer of the image, writing: “WE WEREN’T EVEN IN THE FOOD AREA! IF YOU CAN SEE IN THE BACK IT’S THE SODA MACHINES!… YOU’RE OPINION DOESN’T EVEN MATTER BECAUSE THIS HAPPENED A LONG TIME AGO! DAMMIT!”
This is not the first time a Taco Bell employee’s mistreatment of food has been posted on social media. The Daily Mail reports that another Taco Bell worker tweeted a photograph of himself urinating into a plate of nachos in August last year.