Fast food chains such as Burger King, Wendy’s, and Subway have been in the news quite a bit lately for gross photos that supposedly show employees messing around with food.
When the photos go viral online — even if employees claim they were just pulling a prank — they can be damaging to a brand.
Here’s a run-down of some recent gross fast food photos that have become popular on the Internet:
A Burger King restaurant in Mayfield Heights, Ohio fired three employees after this photo of a worker standing in two bins of lettuce was posted on the local newspaper’s Facebook page. The photo went viral on 4Chan.
In another unfortunate incident for Burger King, in 2008 an employee was shown bathing in a giant sink in the restaurant and calling himself “Mr. Unstable.” He posted the video on MySpace and was fired after health officials caught on, Fox News reported at the time.
This viral photo allegedly shows a Fort Wayne, Ind. Taco Bell employee urinating on a plate of nachos. He posted the photo to his Twitter account and was later fired.
Last month, another Taco Bell employee was fired after the above photo was posted to the company’s Facebook page. The picture was apparently snapped during an employee training session and the taco shells were not meant for customers.
Also last month, a Wendy’s employee was shown in a photo guzzling Frosty ice cream directly from the machine. This came around the time Wendy’s was promoting its new waffle cones.
This KFC employee was photographed licking a mound of mashed potatoes at the restaurant. The picture was posted to a local news station’s Facebook page and garnered more than 2,000 shares and 700 comments.
The employee was fired, and KFC released a statement saying the photo was taken after the restaurant closed and the food was not served.
Most recently, two Subway employees were let go after numerous Instagram photos surfaced that showed the “sandwich artists” defiling food and freezing pee at the restaurant. The above employee said he put his genitals on a loaf of sandwich bread, but added that he did it at home and not at Subway.
What motivates these employees to behave badly? Brand consultant Laura Ries told USA Today that “The majority of [fast food chain] workers are young adults armed with mobile phones and getting paid minimum wage. It is the nature of the beast.”