When Taura Massey visited her local Taco Bell earlier this week, she was hoping to pick up a chalupa meal, but when she got home, she realized she got much more than she bargained for.
The Florida resident's meal came with a soft taco, and she says she had started to feed her 1½-year-old daughter a few bites off the top of the taco before unwrapping it fully. When took the packaging off, she says, she found a cigarette stuck to it, much to her horror.
"I didn’t realize there was a cigarette until I picked up the taco to take a bite myself because it was smashed under the bottom of the soft taco and it was moist, I guess from the meat," she told TODAY Food. "I was horrified and felt so bad because my daughter had eaten some of it."
The 29-year-old, who had eaten at this particular Taco Bell location a few times in the past, was understandably disturbed and shared a photo of the taco on Facebook.
"*NAVY Boulevard, Pensacola Taco Bell* have never been so Disgusted in my life.. I ain’t ever eating fast food again.. TACO BELL IS SO NASTY I am on my way back there to raise hell," she captioned the post.
Massey promptly called the restaurant and returned to get a refund but says she got a pretty lukewarm welcome from the staff.
"The employees were giving me looks and seemed angry that I was bringing it back. When I first walked up to them, a male approached the counter and when I lifted the bag up and said I was here for the refund he cut me off and looked at another lady and said, 'The lady that got a cigarette in her taco is here,'” she recalled. "Then they made me wait over 10 minutes before she would finally walk over, and she wouldn’t even speak to me, but did give me the refund. I was so mad and upset about it."
Following the incident, an employee from restaurant reached out to Massey but their conversation didn't go the way the Florida resident had expected it would.
"He was trying to tell me that I was going to cost people their job, including him, and asked me if I would please be willing to remove the (Facebook) post if he gave me a child’s toy, movie and free food. It was obvious to me that they were trying to sweep it under the rug," she said.
The employee explained that there are cameras in the kitchen and they would be able to see who had the cigarette.
"I felt like he was trying to manipulate me by saying that I’m going to cost innocent people their jobs and 'We have just made an honest mistake' when they dropped a cigarette in the taco!" she said.
TODAY reached out to Taco Bell regarding the matter and a spokesperson shared the following statement: “We take this very seriously. Our franchisee that owns and operates this location is looking into this matter and will be reaching out to the customer directly.”
TODAY also reached out to the Taco Bell franchisee for comment but did not receive a response.
So, what's next for Massey? The 29-year-old mother said she is planning to speak with an attorney about the incident and hopes that local management is held accountable for the potentially dangerous incident.