The owner of a Popeyes franchise in Fairfax, Va., is speaking out after one of his employees was caught on camera preparing food in an unexpected location.
The images show ingredients piled across a metal tray that sits directly on top of a large, grey trash can. An employee is seemingly adding mayonnaise to a bun while standing next to the trash can.
TMZ reported that the scene was within the view of customers at the restaurant's checkout counter.
The incident quickly drew outrage online, with social media users chiming in to criticize the "disgusting" decision.
"Disgusting! That's considered 'cross-contamination' in the industry. If local health inspector ever saw that, the entire franchise would be either shut down or fined, or both," one Twitter user said in response to the photos.
"Higher-ups need to be fired over this. Seriously, be better than this," another person tweeted.
Others, however, said they were unsurprised by the news, sharing similar experiences they'd had working or eating at other fast-food chains.
"If we knew about .00001% of the shenanigans in restaurant/fast food kitchens, Americans would never eat out," one person tweeted. "At some point, somebody dropped your patty on a filthy Burger King floor, picked it up, slapped catsup and mayo on it, and fed it to you."
The controversy made its way to the franchise's owner, who addressed the matter in an interview with TMZ. The owner, who was not identified in the interview, told the outlet that his restaurant was particularly busy that day.
He went on to say that his location had only been open for a few days, and they had just been given an order for 100 chicken sandwiches. The manager added that he immediately ordered a new table as soon as he saw his employees using the trash bin for food prep.
This is just the latest controversy to surround Popeyes' chicken sandwiches, which became a viral sensation after launching in August. The sandwiches sold out almost instantly, leading to fights and illegal sales when they returned in early November.
Last week, the Popeyes chaos turned into a tragic death, after a man was fatally stabbed during an alleged fight over one of the sandwiches.