A Taco Bell employee who was photographed licking and holding about 25 empty taco shells 

After a picture was posted on Taco Bell's Facebook page showing an unnamed employee licking a long stack of taco shells, the fast food chain was forced to take action.

"Our food handling procedures are strict and we have zero tolerance for any violations," Taco Bell said in a statement released today.

"The taco shells were used for training in March before we launched a new product, and were in process of being thrown out," the company noted.

Apparently, employees were encouraged, as part of a competition to promote their new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos which were released in March, to snap pictures of themselves enjoying the new product

But it remains unclear if the employees who took the prank like photos were training for the Locos Tacos promotion.

The person who took the photo is an unnamed employee who no longer works for the company.

Facebook user Jj O'Brien Nolan, whose relationship to the taco shell lover is unknown, posted the photo on Monday with the comment, “This sure says a lot about your employees.”

According to the Daily Mail, speculation is the store where the photo was taken is in Ridgecrest, California. 

The photo, which some defend as simply a practical joke, has gotten some mixed reviews.

One person told the Daily Mail, “Regardless of the circumstances, employees should never represent themselves and their employer in such a manner, especially when you are working in the food service industry.”

However, another just said the photo “makes me hungry.”

This is not the first time the fast food Mexican joint has had an employee post an unflattering image of an employee go viral on social media.

In August 2012, a different employee tweeted a photograph of himself urinating into a plate of nachos.

“I pissed on them where nobody could see, in private, an[d] I threw them away. There’s literally nothing they can do. Fire me. I don’t care,” the photo culprit, Cameron Jankowski, said. 

Taco Bell was happy to comply -- Jankowski was fired immediately.

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