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The Taco Bell e. coli outbreak

Friday, December 15, 2006 | Read Comments

The Taco Bell e. coli outbreak

This comic was created after the e. coli outbreak at Taco Bell restaurants in Dec. 2006. As the news reports surfaced about the outbreak spreading to five states, I wrote a humorous message to the email subscribers, wondering how health authorities could have known there was an outbreak, given that Taco Bell food always makes people feel sick. With a few changes to that joke, this comic was created.

Taco Bell food really does make me feel queasy, by the way, which is probably why I haven't eaten there in many years. But I don't mean to pick on Taco Bell's cleanliness standards. The truth about the Taco Bell outbreak is that the e. coli most likely came from one of their ingredient suppliers (lettuce, onions, etc.), not due to any lapse in cleanliness at the Taco Bell restaurants. My guess is that Taco Bell actually has very stringent cleanliness standards that far exceed those of "Pedro's Taco Stand" or some other local Mexican food outlet.

It's not the cleanliness of Taco Bell that I have a problem with, nor the stuff that accidentally gets into their food. I have a problem with the stuff they intentionally put into their food. Like that "mystery meat" substance. What is that? I remember eating a beef burrito many years ago (when I used to actually eat red meat from Taco Bell -- horrifying, I know...) and wondering, "What planet does this stuff come from?"

I was okay with the lettuce, the tortillas, the onions and maybe even the refried beans, but the beef always scared the appetite right out of me. I always imagined that Taco Bell must be buying whatever cheapest remnants of cow flesh that could legally qualify as suitable for human consumption. As in, one step lower and it's dog food. Whether that's true or not is beyond the scope of this comic, but in my own mind, that's what I always suspected. I mean, let's face it. Taco Bell isn't exactly fine dining.

E. coli may be scary to some people, but let's face the facts here: if you're eating at Taco Bell on a regular basis, you have other problems to be concerned with. Like the acrylamide content of their fried foods, including that huge fried taco salad crispy shell (if they still serve that, anyway) and the real identity of their mystery meat.

Fast food is rife with humor. And Taco Bell's e. coli outbreak was just begging for a cartoon. Next time, it may be Burger King's turn, or McDonald's. But today it was Taco Bell.

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