MIDDLETOWN, Ohio - The behavior of a Middletown, Ohio, fast-food employee who posed for a photo smiling while lying in an ice machine was described as “ridiculous and crazy" by a health official who said the worker wasn’t thinking about potential food contamination.
Earlier this week, Middletown Health Department officials were shown the picture posted on Facebook that showed the employee of Sonic Drive-In, 3607 Dixie Highway, lying in an ice machine with a smile on her face, said Carla Ealy directory of environmental services for the Health Department in Middleton.
Ealy said the employee, who was fully dressed in the picture, acted without considering the health of Sonic patrons.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said.
Before the Health Department could contact Sonic, the Middletown manager self-reported the incident Monday, Ealy said. He assured the department that all the ice was removed and the machine was thoroughly sanitized, she said. He also held a mandatory meeting with his staff, he told Ealy.
Kristin Davis, director of communications for Sonic, said one employee who participated in the incident no longer works for the drive-in, and three other employees were disciplined accordingly. She added no contaminated ice was served to Sonic guests.
The drive-in’s management retrained all employees on the proper handling of ice and equipment use as this type of behavior is “unacceptable” and against company policy, Davis said.
Ealy said the incident occurred sometime Friday. Ealy said the goal of the Health Department is to follow up on potential health violations within three days of notification.
She inspected the ice machine on Tuesday and determined it was clean and operating appropriately.
Still, Ealy said, the actions of the employee “concern” her, and she’s worried about the confidence of Sonic patrons. On one Facebook post about the incident, there were 56 comments, mostly negative, and the photo had been shared 238 times.
The manager at Sonic told the Journal-News Tuesday afternoon she couldn’t comment about the incident.
Based in Oklahoma City, Sonic has 3,526 locations in 43 states, according to the company’s website.