Investigators in Colorado found no evidence that employees of a Taco Bell tampered with a customer’s food after he fell ill and rat poison was discovered in his taco, authorities said Friday.
The customer, who has not been publicly identified, went to the drive-thru of the fast-food restaurant in Aurora around 1 pm on Jan. 15 when he got into an argument with workers because the soda machine was not working, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.
Deputies responded to the disturbance and learned the man had become angry and asked for a burrito in place of the drink, the sheriff’s office said. When staff told him they could not make that substitution, the man continued to argue until they gave him a burrito in place of the drink.
No criminal activity occurred during the incident, according to authorities.
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Deputies later responded to an area hospital for a report that a male had eaten food that had rat poison in it, and learned the patient was the Taco Bell customer.
The man told deputies that after getting the food at the drive-thru, he returned home and helped a neighbor with yard work before watching television for an hour. After his show finished, the man ate the tacos he had ordered earlier.
However, the sheriff’s office said the man claimed that he “immediately felt a burning in his mouth and began to vomit.”
Investigators at the hospital saw the taco that the man had bitten into and saw a “greenish-gray substance” inside the food,” officials said.
Lab tests confirmed the substance was rat poison, according to the sheriff’s office.
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The Taco Bell restaurant was immediately closed and investigators retrieved the remaining food from the man’s house with his permission as they launched an investigation. Local health authorities were also contacted.
Investigators said Taco Bell was very helpful during and turned over all videos from inside the building.
After days of combing through the video footage, investigators said they found no evidence that Taco Bell workers were responsible for placing the rat poison in the customer’s food.
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“Although there is no evidence that the employees at Taco Bell put the rat poison in the food, investigators cannot account for how it got in the food,” the sheriff’s office said.
Investigators said they have been trying to get in contact with the customer via phone and at his home, but have received no answers. They asked the man to contact the sheriff’s office with any additional information.
The sheriff’s office said the investigation will remain open and active.
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Taco Bell released a statement last week to FOX Business in response to the investigation.
“The safety of customers and team members is a priority. The franchisee who owns and operates this location has informed us that they are working with local authorities in their investigation,” Taco Bell Corp. said.
Fox Business’ Pilar Arias contributed to this report.