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Oct 19, 2021

Toilet Paper in Tacos Report Prompts Public Health Investigation: No Evidence Found So Far

Belizeans just love their tacos, which is probably why a report that a man had gotten ill from consuming tacos that contained something other than chicken went viral today. But as News Five found out, after a day of investigations, so far there seems to be no truth to the report. This did not stop reporter Paul Lopez from taking on the case. On the contrary, he welcomed the chance to go on a little taco run today.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Delicious and cheap, soft tacos are a Belizean staple. A hot soft corn tortilla or flour tortilla, pasted with a juicy shredded chicken, diced onions, cabbage and pepper sauce. It is rolled into tube and consumed using your bare hands. Street vendors, like this one, set up their little stand where they sell in an alfresco environment, exposed to the elements. Today, however, it is not the exposure to rain or sun, or flies that causing a stir. It’s toilet paper.


Paul Lopez

You have heard the reports that there is a tacos sales person using toilet paper to stretch the meat.”


That’s Sijahan Avila, a street side tacos vendor who, like us, read an online news report saying a tacos vendor was told to shut down operations after it was discovered that the vendor was using toilet paper in their tacos meat.


Sijahan Avila

Sijahan Avila, Street Side Tacos Vendor

“It is hard to believe that that is happening, because paper is something when you taste it, no matter how much, the amount that is be claimed, is being said, you could realize that meat that you are biting, because it will have a rubber taste. It should have something different from meat, something that is paper in an amount that they are claiming.”


Between us both, Sijahan is the expert on making soft tacos. She has been doing this since she was eleven years old. She has lids on every container and pot. Her corn tortillas are stored in a cooler to contain its warmth and freshness. The chicken she uses has a paste like texture, less consistent with the texture of toilet paper and more consistent with gravy of sorts. The onions she adds are also sealed for freshness, a bit of pepper, and roll. Sijahan says in all her years of making tacos, she has never heard something like this allegation.


Sijahan Avila

“No no no, I have been in this business since I was eleven years old. But, I have never heard of using that to stretch the meat. Several people claim that, in my years I have heard people say that, yes deh say some people use bread, some people use other sources they make the meat with. But sometimes it is just somebody, just a bad worker that spread rumors just to give it a bad name.”

But, it is hard to give a bad name to something so good. It is much easier to make light of these reports, as Belizeans do well.


Troy “Dj Dalla” Flowers

Troy “Dj Dalla” Flowers

“Sir, this dah the new way how yo mek tacos. Yo mix up toilet paper with the tacos meat and yo get double the amount. And dah suh yo have to do it eena this hard time yah. Yes, the harder the toilet paper, the harder the tacos, and the softer the toilet paper, the softer the tacos is.”


Public health authorities say there is no evidence to suggest that any tacos vendor is using toilet paper to make their chicken go farther. In fact, public health inspectors have spent the day checking and none of them have found anything.  Right now, it is looking more and more like this was a case of fake news.  But one that can harm legitimate vendors.


Melissa Diaz Musa

On the phone: Melissa  Diaz Musa, Manager, Central Health Region

“I spoke to our public health inspectors and they were up in arms. They are like definitely not. Of course, they told me if something like that would have happened they would have reported it to me right away. But definitely, we never visited any tacos stand and we didn’t close down anybody.”


Sijahan Avila

People believe that this business is something that gives us a large amount of money and it is easy. But, it is not an easy job. We are up from three in the morning, three thirty to prepare.”


Paul Lopez

“The argument is that because it is such a hard job, that is the reason why people may want to cut corners.”


Sijahan Avila

“I nuh believe that people will do that. It is something hard to believe that somebody will actually, because we actually eat our own tacos. My family eats home, and my family come and eats. So I believe the same way I feed you, I will be serving my own family.”


Delicious to the last bite, no toilet paper was detected. Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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