(Dec. 18) “We don’t have any evidence that it is the supplier, nor specifically, that it is produce,” said Brian Dixon, Taco John’s vice president of marketing, Dec. 13 as the company replaced St. Paul, Minn.-based Bix Produce Co., as supplier for about 100 of its restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota.

“But, clearly, this is the easiest, fastest response we can take. If we can take that issue off the table, then it helps us with the current consumer concerns.”

Do consumers really want aimless blame to feel safer about their tacos and burritos?

It’s hard to believe they do, and as of Dec. 14, fellow E. coli outbreak sufferer Taco Bell was reporting sales declines across the country.

Taco Bell originally thought the source of its E. coli outbreak was green onions, so it pulled them from all of its 5,800 restaurants. Then the chain fired its East Coast green onion supplier, Ready Pac.

On Dec. 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, said shredded lettuce is the most likely culprit of the outbreak.

Shifting the blame from green onions to lettuce certainly isn’t good news for the produce industry, as it has suffered through several months of declining consumer confidence in the wake of several foodborne illness episodes.

The industry constantly battles misinformation in the consumer media. But it really hurts when its partners, like Yum Brands’ Taco Bell and Taco John’s, inflame the situation by unnecessarily dumping suppliers.

Crises tend to show the true character of a person or company. Times like these are for investigating, being open with the media and the public and taking responsibility whenever possible.

The taco companies’ approaches bring to mind a certain schoolyard saying: When you point your finger at others, your other fingers are pointing right back at you.