Taco Bell removed and discarded 2.3 million pounds of seasoned beef from eateries in 21 states after a customer found a metal shaving in a menu item, the fast-food chain said Tuesday.
Federal regulators were alerted to the problem on Saturday, after three consumers complained about metal pieces in Taco Bell beef, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a release Monday.
Produced by Kenosha Beef in Columbus, Ohio, between September 20 and October 4, the beef being recalled involves seasoned beef taco and burrito filling shipped to Taco Bells nationwide, according to the FSIS. The product was sent to distribution centers in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Virginia, and then to Taco Bell restaurants in 21 states across the eastern Midwest, northern Southeast and Northeast regions, Taco Bell said.
Taco Bell restaurants in some states reportedly were suggesting chicken or steak to customers as a beef substitute before the recall was publicly announced, prompting some to call out the company on social media.
"The secrecy of what's going on makes me afraid to ever eat at your restaurant again," one Twitter user wrote.
"Nothing is more important than our customers' safety, and nothing means more to us than their trust," Julie Masino, president of Taco Bell's North America division, responded. "As soon as we received the first consumer complaint, we immediately acted to remove the product from the affected restaurants and proactively worked with the supplier to inform the USDA of our steps to protect our guests."
Consumers with questions can call (800) 822-6235 (800-TACOBEL) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time.
Owned by Yum Brands, Taco Bell and its franchisees operate more than 7,000 restaurants around the globe, with most, or just over 6,600, in the U.S.
In July, Taco Bell cited a supplier issue for a tortilla shortage that prompted some of its restaurants to temporarily cut some items from their menus.