July 18, 2012 at 12:18 PM ET
"What are you doing on the phone? Don't answer the phone!"
Judging by the frantic shouts I overheard when I called the Burger King in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, I'd say that folks at that particular location of the fast food chain are a bit rattled. And that makes sense, right after a photo of an employee with his feet in the restaurant's lettuce bins hit the Internet.
The photo — which you can see above — initially appeared on 4Chan, a website which allows users to post images and participate in discussion anonymously. It was captioned, "This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King."
Mere moments after the photo was first posted, some 4Chan users identified the Burger King location at which it must've been taken. (The individual who posted the photo apparently forgot to strip it of its geo-location tags.)
4Chan users, apparently disturbed by the prospect of shoe dirt in their Whoppers, began calling the Burger King in question, and forwarding the photo to local news outlets. The folks at Cleveland.com were among the first to report about the incident, after the Mayfield Heights Facebook page — which they run — was inundated with posts of the feet-in-lettuce photo, and comments referencing it.
Bryson Thornton, director of global communications for Burger King, confirmed to me that the photo was indeed taken at a Burger King location, though he clarified that it happens to be "independently owned and operated by a Burger King franchisee."
"The franchisee has taken swift action to investigate this matter and terminated the three employees involved in the incident," he said, after giving me a standard statement, which I suspect was painful to draft:
Burger King Corp. has recently been made aware of a photo that shows a Burger King restaurant employee violating the company’s stringent food handling procedures. Food safety is a top priority at all Burger King restaurants and the company maintains a zero-tolerance policy against any violations such as the one in question.
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