In a statement to Consumerist, a rep for the Bell writes:
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.
In the comments on the photo posted to the Taco Bell Facebook page, some are defending the employee in the photo, with one person saying he knows the employee and “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 — in all caps so you know she’s serious — “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!”