A Taco Bell employee’s photo, depicting him licking empty taco shells and posted to his Facebook page, has gone viral, sending shudders up the spines of consumers and forcing the company into a quick apology and explanation.
The photo appeared Monday on the “Consumerist” blog, which is run by watchdog group Consumer Reports. It was similar in nature to a video posted by a Domino’s Pizza worker four years ago that showed an employee putting mucus inside of a sandwich. Brand consultants have stated that this negative public relations is the result of hiring employees who treat the brand as “disposable”.
“It’s not a brand problem — it’s a brand practices problem,” says Erika Napoletano, a brand strategy consultant. “If you hire people who treat your brand as disposable, that’s the kind of PR you’ll get.”
To its credit, Taco Bell responded quickly.
“We have strict food and handling procedures and zero tolerance for any violations,” Taco Bell says in a statement. The company insists that the franchisee — whose name and location it hasn’t revealed — did not serve the taco shells to any customers. “They were used for training only and in the process of being thrown out,” the company says.
Taco Bell insisted that the taco shells in the photo were used for training only and disposed of afterward. While the company would not say whether or not the particular workers had been fired, it did emphasize that such behavior would not be tolerated, and it would take appropriate action after investigating.
“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,” Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch said.
Brand consultants have added that Taco Bell will continue to see this kind of behavior if it does not create higher expectations for workers and hire those who are passionate about the brand. They further stated that consumers need to feel safe about anything that is purchsed.
Taco Bell Employee Under “Investigation” After Photo of Him Licking Taco Shells Hits Facebook
Photo of Taco Bell worker licking shells sends shudders