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Police: No evidence Taco Bell workers put rat poison in burrito that sickened man

After watching surveillance video of the Colorado Taco Bell in question, police say there's no evidence workers put rat poison in the burrito that apparently sickened the man.
The man allegedly became sick after he ate a burrito that contained rat poison.
The man allegedly became sick after he ate a burrito that contained rat poison.Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Image
/ Source: TODAY

After a man was hospitalized and said he got sick from eating a meal at Taco Bell that allegedly contained rat poison, investigators now say there's "no evidence" that the workers at the fast food chain tampered with the food.

In a statement released on Jan. 20, John Bartman, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office public information deputy, said that after "several days" of investigation and watching surveillance video provided by the Centennial, Colorado, Taco Bell, they have found "found no evidence that the employees were responsible for placing the rat poison in the food given to the customer."

Bartman added that investigators haven't been able to get in touch with the man who was believed to have eaten the rat poison in the first place — either by phone or at his home.  Officials still have not publicly identified the man involved. Officials still have not publicly identified the man involved.

 "Although there is no evidence that the employees at Taco Bell put the rat poison in the food, investigators can not account for how it got in the food," Bartman said in a statement. "If the customer has any information that can help with the investigation into how the poison could have gotten into the food, we request he contacts the Sheriff’s Office."

The original incident happened on Jan. 15 at 1 p.m., Bartman told TODAY.com on Jan. 18. He said deputies responded to a disturbance call from Taco Bell regarding a customer and workers in the drive-thru.

He said they didn't find any "criminal activity" at the scene but learned the argument was over a soda machine not working. The customer asked for a burrito instead of the soda, and left with it.

When the customer ate the food later that day at around 7 p.m., he said that he felt a burning sensation and immediately became ill, called 911, and was taken to the hospital, Bartman said.

The hospital contacted the local authorities to inform them of “a patient complaining he had eaten food with rat poison in it.”

“Deputies responded to the hospital and did find food that had a greenish-gray substance in some of the food,” he continued, adding that the customer has since been released from the hospital. Officials did not identify the man and there was no information provided about the customer’s health.

In a statement, Taco Bell told TODAY.com on Jan. 18 that the franchisee who owns the location was taking the investigation seriously.

“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,” a Taco Bell spokesperson said in the statement.

The local health and environmental departments were also contacted, Bartman said, and the store employees had to dispose all their food before being allowed to reopen.

In the statement on Jan. 20, Bartman said that the investigation is still being considered "open and active."

EDITOR'S NOTE (Jan. 20, 2023 at 7:40 p.m. ET): This story has been updated with the latest information from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office that indicated there was "no evidence" the workers at the Taco Bell restaurant tampered with the man's food.