Rat poison found in man’s Taco Bell meal, authorities say

Authorities are investigating whether the rat poison was put into the customer's food at the restaurant. (KCNC via CNN)
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 11:43 PM AKST
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CENTENNIAL, Colo. (KCNC) - Authorities in Colorado say a man was hospitalized after he ate rat poison in his to-go order from Taco Bell.

The Taco Bell restaurant on Smoky Hill Road and Buckley in Aurora, Colorado, is now the focus of an Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office investigation.

Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy John Bartmann says a customer, who the office is not naming, bought burritos at the restaurant Sunday afternoon. While there, he argued with employees because the restaurant’s drink station wasn’t working.

Hours later, the man called 911 after he ate the food and “became violently ill,” Bartmann says. He was then hospitalized.

“That hospital said they had a patient who had possibly consumed rat poison in his food from the same restaurant. Right now, what we’re looking at is if the rat poison was actually put into his food at the restaurant,” Bartmann said.

He says at this time, the case is being investigated as “criminal attempt homicide.”

Deputies closed the Taco Bell down Sunday night.

The manager of the restaurant calls the situation ridiculous. She says they don’t store rat poison at the location. She also describes the man as a regular customer who has caused problems before.

“They came back and closed down the restaurant, saying we poisoned somebody. We didn’t do anything like that. It didn’t even add up,” the manager said.

The sheriff’s office is reviewing surveillance video and other evidence related to the incident.

Sheriff’s investigators say the amount of rat poison in the man’s to-go order was significant, but they’re not ruling out any possibility of how it ended up there.

“But right now, we’re looking at how did this substance get into this gentleman’s food?” Bartmann said.

Taco Bell’s corporate communications team responded to a request for comment by saying, “The safety of customers and team members is a priority.” They added that the franchisee is working with local authorities in the investigation.