Well before the Internet, the quick-serve restaurant industry was challenged by disgusting tales or urban legends of what possibly happens to customer food before it's on the table. Social media has brought evidence of such food-tampering (sometimes done as a prank, for sure) to the fore in recent years, and Taco Bell is the latest brand to suffer from unfortunate pictures on the subject surfacing on Facebook or Twitter.
A photo of a Taco Bell employee in California licking a stack of hard shell tacos was posted by a consumer to the brand's Facebook page last night. The pic went viral and was picked up by such outlets as Consumerist.
Adweek reached out to the Irvine, Calif.-based fast-food giant today about the situation and received the following response:
Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and team members, and we have strict food handling procedures and zero tolerance for any violations. 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.
Yeah, it sounds like somebody might get fired.
At any rate, the development brings up memories of other QSR-based social media nightmares involving food—namely Burger King's feet-in-lettuce fiasco in 2012 and Domino's snot-focused snafu four years ago.