A picture of a Taco Bell employee licking a stack of taco shells was posted Sunday on Taco Bell's Facebook page, shocking customers and prompting an investigation.
The New York Post reported today that the photographer was fired, and the man in the photo has been suspended and is in the process of being fired.
Widespread outrage quickly erupted after the photo was posted Sunday. A spokesman said in a statement:
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.
The company also said on its website that "the taco shells were used for training in March before we launched a new product, and were in process of being thrown out."
Like many social media users, Jesse Guin wasn't convinced that the shells weren't served.
"First of all, he's wearing a taco bell uniform.. He is in taco bell, and he is licking bulk taco shells.. What are we supposed to think? I think not only him but the little girl who took the picture should get fired, mainly for stupidity," Guin wrote on Taco Bell's Facebook page.
Others, however, played down the apparent prank. Facebook user Bryan Klassen's take on the incident: "Real problems in the world and everyone's bitching about some dude licking trash."