Taco Bell rumors prove to be false

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Speculation over whether tainted meat and a rash of food poisoning forced the closure of a local Taco Bell restaurant is nothing more than sensationalized rumors, according to health department officials and representatives who run the franchise.

The fast food franchise, located at 1922 W. Airline Hwy., LaPlace, shut down Nov. 2, 2007, and all of the exterior signs were immediately removed from the building. A small sign taped to the door gave no indication as to why the store closed, but said Taco Bell plans to return to LaPlace within the next six months.

Carolyn Picard Bombet, a representative from the Louisiana Department of Health, said her office had no record of the restaurant closing. She said the health department only shuts restaurants down if there is an imminent health threat, and that probably was not the case in this particular closure.

The restaurant was last inspected Oct. 30, 2007 by State Inspector Stan Howat. Howat said his inspection found no major issues and that the closure was not a result of his most recent visit to the restaurant.

“I had heard the rumors of poisoned meat and tainted food making people sick and forcing the store to shut down, but that was not an issue,” said Howat. “People hear things, speculate and it all

gets blown out of proportion.”

One rumor circulating also went as far as to say someone had died from the tainted meat, and that an employee had spilled chemicals into the food—all of which were not true.

Jay LeBlanc, one of the operators of the location, said the franchise was leasing the property from a local family, and the owners of the restaurant decided not to renew the lease.

“We had been at that location for 20 years, and we have never had an issue like that,” said LeBlanc. “We just decided it was time to find a new location.”

LeBlanc said the franchise plans to move to a more centralized spot in the LaPlace area and is looking to secure land near the Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers restaurant at the intersection of US 51 and Airline Highway. He hopes to have the new location up and running very soon, probably within six months.

LeBlanc said the quick closure of the location might have stirred up the rumors. He wanted to make it clear that Taco Bell would be back in the LaPlace area just as quickly.

“We want to reopen as soon as possible,” said LeBlanc. “We just need to find the right place to rebuild.”