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Man says metal found in Taco Bell tortilla

| Thursday, May 10, 2012, 7:16 p.m.

Taco Bell is investigating a Greensburg man's claim that he got more than meat, tomatoes and lettuce in a tortilla he bought at one of the company's restaurants on Route 30 in Hempfield Township.

Jeff Sano said Monday that he found a piece of metal about an inch long in one of three soft tacos that he took home Friday night from the Hempfield Plaza business, west of Greensburg.

"We are investigating the matter," said Laurie Schalow, spokeswoman for the fast-food chain based in Irvine, Calif. "From what the manager said of the piece of metal, it didn't look like anything we used in our restaurant, so there's no way to say how it got into the food."

Sano said he was in the process of warming a taco when he discovered the object.

"I threw the first one in the microwave, unwrapped it and put hot sauce on it. Then I wrapped it up tight, and the metal poked through the center," he said.

"It kind of shocked me. I wonder how it got in there."

Sano said he returned to the restaurant that night and showed a manager the metal object.

"I said, 'There's a piece of metal in one of my tacos,'" he recalled. "She said, 'I'll make you another one.'"

Sano said he told her he didn't want another taco and got his money back.

But he remained concerned about how the object got in his food. So over the weekend, he called a toll-free number for Taco Bell that he saw at the restaurant, he said.

"All I've gotten is a busy signal," Sano said yesterday afternoon. "Now I'm waiting for the district manager to call me."

Yesterday, neither a shift manager nor an assistant manager at the restaurant would answer questions about Sano's claim. They referred calls to their district manager, who didn't return several requests for comment.

Schalow said Taco Bell, which operates about 7,000 restaurants nationwide, planned to ask Sano to allow the company to look at the object.

About the frequency of such claims, Schalow said, "Not many, but they do happen from time to time."

Taco Bell is part of Yum! Brands Inc., which also owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Long John Silvers, among other enterprises.

At this point, Schalow said her company was unsure what to make of Sano's claim.

"Sometimes they're factual, sometimes they're fraudulent. A thorough investigation will have to take place," she said.

Liz Jeffries, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, which is involved in food inspection, didn't return a call.

Sano, a caseworker for the Westmoreland County Blind Association, said he only reported the matter to Taco Bell. He said he believes the metal was in his food by mistake.

"I think it was just an accident," Sano said.

All he wants to know is how the metal got into his meal, he said.

"I didn't take a bite. I'm not injured. I'm not trying to sue them or anything. I just like to know where it came from," Sano said.

And he still has the evidence.

"I kept them. I kept the bag," Sano said.

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