Fake News: Taco Bell Did NOT Warn Employees Against Directly Exposing Skin To Food

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Taco Bell Did NOT Warn Employees Against Directly Exposing Skin To Food

Did Taco Bell warn its employees against directly touching the food because that would be dangerous? No, that's not true: the story originally came from The Onion, a satirical website. It is not true. Note that you should probably avoid exposing your eyes to the vapours and fluids contained in onions (no relation to the website) though, as this is really known to sting fiercely.

The story originated from an article published by The Onion on December 16, 2018 titled "Taco Bell Warns Employees Against Directly Exposing Skin To Food" (archived here) which opened:

IRVINE, CA--In a new handbook distributed Friday to employees at all 6,500 of its locations worldwide, fast food chain Taco Bell has issued an updated set of safety protocols that warns workers against directly exposing their skin to any of its food products.

The company's revised food-handling directives, which apply to every item on the restaurant's Tex-Mex-inspired menu, require employees to notify their shift manager immediately if Taco Bell ingredients make even brief surface contact with any part of their body, with the exception of instances when items come in contact with the eyes, in which case all workers are instructed to use the nearest emergency eye wash fountain "without delay."

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail, especially in combination with the picture it looked like a "real" alarmist news article to people who don't know The Onion and who didn't actually click through and read it:

Taco Bell Warns Employees Against Directly Exposing Skin To Food

IRVINE, CA--In a new handbook distributed Friday to employees at all 6,500 of its locations worldwide, fast food chain Taco Bell has issued an updated set of safety protocols that warns workers against directly exposing their skin to any of its food products.

The Onion is one of the oldest and best known satire websites on the internet. Their about page claims:

The Onion is the world's leading news publication, offering highly acclaimed, universally revered coverage of breaking national, international, and local news events. Rising from its humble beginnings as a print newspaper in 1756, The Onion now enjoys a daily readership of 4.3 trillion and has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.

In addition to maintaining a towering standard of excellence to which the rest of the industry aspires, The Onion supports more than 350,000 full- and part-time journalism jobs in its numerous news bureaus and manual labor camps stationed around the world, and members of its editorial board have served with distinction in an advisory capacity for such nations as China, Syria, Somalia, and the former Soviet Union. On top of its journalistic pursuits, The Onion also owns and operates the majority of the world's transoceanic shipping lanes, stands on the nation's leading edge on matters of deforestation and strip mining, and proudly conducts tests on millions of animals daily.

If you somehow find that hard to believe: you are right. Scroll down a bit futher on that page and you'll find this:

What if I want to sue The Onion?
Please do not do that. The First Amendment protects satire as a form of free speech and expression. The Onion uses invented names in all of its stories, except in cases where public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.

Articles from The Onion are frequently mistaken for real news by people on social media that only see the headline, short description and thumbnail image. Being one of the best known satire sites their articles also frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites that don't carry a satire disclaimer. Always Google before sharing something that sounds improbable!

We wrote about theonion.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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