Taco Bell Manager Blames Salmonella Symptoms On You Not Eating Enough Taco Bell

A little while back, Jason came down with food poisoning after chowing down at his local Taco Bell. And when he later tried to give the fast food eatery a heads-up that others might get sick — and this was before anyone knew of the multi-state salmonella outbreak tied to Taco Bell — he was told that maybe he just hadn’t eaten enough Taco Bell to toughen up his stomach.

When Jason’s bout with salmonella had finally run its course, he contacted both the chain’s national customer service and the Taco Bell where he’d purchased the salmonella. He says the customer service rep was “very receptive and apologetic,” but the manager at his local franchise was “less than helpful.”

Take it away, J:

I just wanted to warn the store, and hopefully prevent somebody else having to go through what I did.

As soon as I told them I had food poisoning, the manager immediately became defensive, spouting off their health inspection records and assuring me that their restaurant was clean — I guess nobody trained the manager that a dirty cooking area isn’t the only vector for food poisoning. She also forcefully told me that nobody else had reported getting sick.

The most ludicrous part was when after describing my symptoms (nausea, hourly vomiting, diarrhea), the manager tried to tell me that if you weren’t used to eating their food, it could cause an adverse reaction. Yes, the manager tried to blame food poisoning symptoms on me not having the intestinal fortitude to handle Taco Bell!

After that I figured it wasn’t worth continuing the conversation. What a shame that the manager at the store seemed more interested in playing CYA than listen to somebody who was trying to help.

While Jason might have just been out to help, some salmonella victims have filed suit againt Taco Bell’s parent company over the outbreak.

If you were the manager and received a call about food poisoning, how would you have handled it?

More importantly, how much Taco Bell does it take to harden your digestive system enough to handle a chalupa?

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. ThyGuyXX says:

    As a manager, I wouldn’t admit to making someone sick unless they had absolute proof. Unless taco bell was all he had to eat, then it could have been other food that made him sick, and if the customer insist that taco bell made him sick, I’d tell him to prove it.

    This isn’t a dick tactic; it’s just the moment you claim responsibility as a restaurant when it comes to food illness, you’re liable for lawsuits.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      You’re right; but you also wouldn’t tell the customer that his body just isn’t acclimated to what’s about to happen to it after eating at your establishment, either.

      Protocol is usually to direct them to the Board of Health; they do testing and ask questions about things the person ate going back a couple of days. Usually symptoms don’t start until more than a day later, so sometimes people are blaming it on a restaurant (because for some reason, that’s more logical than something they bought at the grocery store or prepared themselves) when they really got sick before then.

    • KrispyKrink says:

      Yes, but now that a national outbreak via Taco Bell did occur, the manager has opened herself up to a personal lawsuit for her response to the customer. Taco Bell corporate, if they choose, can leave her hanging in the wind.

  2. GMFish says:

    If you were the manager and received a call about food poisoning, how would you have handled it?

    Considering how common it is for Taco Bell’s food to give customers diarrhea, It’s my opinion that the manager acted appropriately since he received only one call on the issue.

  3. HalOfBorg says:

    I can’t blame the manager for thinking “Just ONE WRONG WORD and I am SO screwed here!” – but blaming a weak stomach???

  4. common_sense84 says:

    The problem here is that the supposed source is raw vegetables.

    That means the local restaurant, nor taco bell is responsible. Their supplier is.

    • erratapage says:

      Fine, but the restaurant has food that could make people sick. And after his call, the restaurant has information that, if properly responded to, could prevent people from getting sick. I would hope that the restaurant would try to investigate whether it has contaminated food on site when one of their customers develops a diagnosed case of salmonella.

      • common_sense84 says:

        The restaurant doesn’t know what is making people sick, and a single call is meaningless to the restaurant.

        They aren’t going to throw away all their food items and sterilize the whole kitchen over a single phone call.

        If you are going to say the restaurant should do something about it, please tell us what that is they should do.

        All they can do is call corporate and report the call. Hopefully corporate has a line like that, so they can themselves determine if there is a problem if too many calls come in across restaurants with common suppliers.

        There is no investigation with things like this. Just reporting incidents until a discernible trend is identified. Essentially until enough people get sick and report getting sick, there is no way to know what is happening or why.

      • Kitamura says:

        Not defending their response, but if one person claimed to have gotten food poisoning at a high volume fast food joint when no one else eating there has reported anything similar, I’d be sceptical too unless they’d gotten a professional to explicitly say that they had food poisoning and that it was the taco bell food, though at that point they’d probably already have the local health authority on their backs without having to go in to complain in person.

  5. erratapage says:

    Last time I went to Taco Bell, I ended up in the hospital with a full blown gall bladder attack. Two days later, I didn’t have a gall bladder or a desire to eat at Taco Bell ever again. I’m not blaming Taco Bell for my gall bladder attack, but why would I eat something that would do that to me? I’m also not blaming the OP, because although I think it’s unwise to eat Taco Bell as a general rule, salmonella should not be an expected outcome to eating Taco Bell.

  6. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Is this commenting system working yet? Judging by the amount of time it took me to log in, I’m doubting so. None of my buttons work.

    As for Taco Bell, since no one else reported getting sick and it’s usually difficult to figure out where you got food posioning from – and apparently she isn’t educated about foodborne illnesses and when they can come form.
    She probably didn’t believe him. Is that cool? No.
    Also, I remember as a kid, we used to say we got sick and asked for free food for the trouble.
    I imagine we weren’t/aren’t the only ones who took advantage of that.

    I also think that if someone doesn’t usually eat fast food a lot and then eats Taco Bell, they’re going to get the shits and not feel so well anyway.

    Man, that place is nasty.

  7. AstroWorn2010 says:

    You have to admit it does take a strong digestive system to handle Taco Bell food even when it’s cooked right with non tainted vegetables, but that wasn’t handled well at all by the manager, kind of makes you wonder if they had previous problems and that’s why the manager took such a defensive stance.

  8. COBBCITY says:

    “if you weren’t used to eating their food, it could cause an adverse reaction.”

    Oh, I would love to hear what Yum (the owners of Taco Bell) have to say about that manager’s comment.
    The downside of franchise your stores. You can’t control what they say or do and it could kill your brand.

  9. El_Fez says:

    I could eat Toxic Hell every single day, every single meal, for the rest of my natural life and I would NEVER have a stomach strong enough to eat their horrible, horrible food.

  10. BigHeadEd says:

    This is not the type of gastric callous I would want to develop. I’d rather focus on rare hamburgers, steak tartare, oysters, and dodgy street food than preprocessed boil-in-bag beef product and half washed lettuce.

  11. failurate says:

    It is probably better to let the health department or hospital or someone other than random Joe taco eater talk to the restaurant manager. Being that it is Taco Bell, they probably get all sorts of unsubstantiated reports of food poisoning.

    The manager’s comment is ridiculous though.

  12. muzicman82 says:

    I eat Taco Bell every couple weeks. When I do, I don’t typically have explosive digestive problems like people imply when they hear Taco Bell or even White Castle. I don’t consider myself to have a bulletproof stomach either. I think what happens in a lot of cases is people tend to eat a lot of food there. Too much of anything will kill you, right? Perhaps I’m lucky.

    I typically find their food to be decently fresh, although it doesn’t have the quality they often claim. It may not be the case at all locations, but the one I go to has very polite staff.

    A restaurant can attempt to control things like food quality, but really, when you get a truckload of produce in, it looks like fresh produce and you serve it. When a manager gets drift of an incident all they can do is acknowledge he problem and resolve it. The worst thing they could do is deny that they are the root of the problem.

  13. Matzoball says:

    I would have invited the consumer into the store to take a tour. Which of course corporate/franchise owner would probably never let happen.

  14. muzicman82 says:

    I eat Taco Bell every couple weeks. When I do, I don’t typically have explosive digestive problems like people imply when they hear Taco Bell or even White Castle. I don’t consider myself to have a bulletproof stomach either. I think what happens in a lot of cases is people tend to eat a lot of food there. Too much of anything will kill you, right? Perhaps I’m lucky.

    I typically find their food to be decently fresh, although it doesn’t have the quality they often claim. It may not be the case at all locations, but the one I go to has very polite staff.

    A restaurant can attempt to control things like food quality, but really, when you get a truckload of produce in, it looks like fresh produce and you serve it. When a manager gets drift of an incident all they can do is acknowledge he problem and resolve it. The worst thing they could do is deny that they are the root of the problem.

  15. Destron says:

    The problem is, that actual food poisoning takes about 16-24 hours to rear it’s ugly head, and people like to call up 30 minutes after they ate and claim food poisoning, happens all the time. Sometimes the motive IS free food, and you have to question why you would want free food from a place that supposedly made you sick. I am in no way saying that the OP did that, but sometimes when you know what people go through you understand their responses a bit better.

  16. haggis for the soul says:

    Taco Bell as gastrointestinal strength training. Hilarious.

  17. ellemdee says:

    Everyone knows the cure for Salmonella is more Salmonella.

    And I think the manager is mistaking Taco Bell for Mexican water.

  18. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    Is there a reason he didn’t go to the county health department? Was he actually diagnosed with food poisoning by a medical professional or is it just his assumption based on symptoms?

    Let the health department investigate the matter — it’s their job. Taco Bell will take them much more seriously then a random guy off the street claiming to have food poisoning.

  19. coren says:

    If you stop eating fast food for a long time than eat some again, won’t that make you sick? I seem to remember anecdotal evidence attesting to that – if so that might be what this manager was getting at.

  20. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    As an ex-high-end restaurant worker, I can tell you that even a single phone call of this type would have put us on alert and we certainly would have taken a hard look at a few things. Of course this was years ago, and judging by the “it’s not their fault” posts here I grieve for the lack of common sense of some posters… are you people lawyers trawling for Taco Bell’s business???

  21. dg says:

    I’ve never gotten sick from Taco Smell’s food – then again, I’ve only eaten it when there was NOTHING else open besides a White Castle (and that definitely makes me ill). Still, I could see where the manager would recommend having a cast iron stomach to eat it on a regular basis

    If I were the manager and I got a food poisoning call – I’d have said “That’s unfortunate. We haven’t had any other complaints from anyone. What did you eat?” then I’d get off the phone and check the items – bad or not, I’d toss it out.

    But you NEVER, EVER admit anything to a customer – that’s the best way to invite a lawsuit.

  22. BoredOOMM says:

    Does anyone have a live person at Yum! Foods instead of the lame survey they push on the back of every receipt? Our local salmonella depository has some of the filthiest soda fountains and floors I have ever seen. They have a sticker to let the attendant know if the sign is not working where you pay for your order- the sign has been broken for over 2 years.

  23. jv says:

    I’m the guy who submitted the tip. Clarification for anybody that cares:

    1. The first place I contacted was the Kentucky Board of Health, who never did call me back (although I don’t know if that’s SOP for them or not).

    2. I also very specifically told them that Taco Bell was the ONLY food I had not shared with other people for the previous 2 days. So it certainly pointed to them being the culprit.

    3. It’s true I didn’t get a professional medical opinion, but you’d have to be pretty dense to think that violent vomiting for 8 hours along with diarrhea isn’t food poisoning.

    4. I didn’t expect them to admit anything, not in today’s lawsuit happy climate, I just wanted to warn them they might be making people sick. But it’s just insulting to be told that violently vomiting for 8 hours straight is because you’re not used to a certain food…