Customers at a local fast food restaurant in Bradley County say they found a disturbing scene over the weekend, hundreds of buns, just feet away from a public toilet. 

It all happened at a Checkers restaurant located off of 25th Street in North West Cleveland,TN. Pictures confirm the buns weren't in the oven, they were in the bathroom, Saturday. Customers say this type of practice is unacceptable while health department officials called it a "public health emergency." Tennessee Department of Health officials were on the scene within 24 hours to investigate. 

"That's nasty, I don't want to eat," said customer T.C. Cooper. "I'm never going to eat there again." 

Customers are now turning away from the Checkers in Cleveland after seeing the pictures another customer posted online. 
The video show several racks of hamburger buns sitting next to the toilet in the men's bathroom.

"It's just bad business, poor management and it's disgusting," said Cooper. 

Stephen Staley who manages a nearby McDonalds says he was visiting Checkers on Saturday when took the video. 

"My first thought was are they going to serve them and speechless other than that," said Staley 

He says he took the video to keep others safe.

"I've been to get a serve-safe certificate and you learn about all of that stuff in that class," said Staley. "Food safety is definitely a big priority in a restaurant."

 He confronted the manager on duty about the buns being in the bathroom. 

"They said they were trying to get them out of there and inside of the restaurant," said Staley. 

Staley told Channel 3 that he stayed on the property until employees moved the buns back inside more than an hour after his complaint. He then he called the Health Department's emergency tip-line for help. 

"We had an environmentalist go out to the restaurant Sunday morning to speak with the manager and find out what the situation was," said Eric Coffee, Field Office Manager for Division of Environmental Health. "With all of the bacteria and things that are present in the restroom,  it's possible to contaminate the food so that's never acceptable." 

Inspectors conducted a site inspection on Sunday and tell Channel 3, they found the buns in the dumpster. 

"There were no imminent health hazards present while we were there in order to require them to be closed," said Coffee. 

A spokesperson for Checkers released a statement saying:

" The health and safety of our guests is our top priority and a bread delivery mistakenly left in the bathroom is completely unacceptable. The buns were misplaced during a delivery at the franchise-operated Checkers location in Cleveland, Tennessee, on Saturday, April 23,2016, and when discovered, they were immediately disposed of by the restaurant team.The buns were never served, and the employees involved in the delivery have been disciplined. The Health Department conducted an inspection at the restaurant this morning and  confirmed the disposal of the buns. We apologize to our guests, and we are taking actions with this franchisee to ensure our operating procedures are followed," said  Kim Francis, Spokesperson, Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc."

Some customers say that's not enough, " No, it's a wrap I'm done," said Cooper. "I'm not going to eat there any more. It's nasty you know the management had to know about this."

Health Department officials say this restaurant is not one they're called to often. They get 2 or 3 complaints about food a day in Bradley County and they investigate 10 -15 calls each week. 

"We look for cross contamination from raw to cooked foods, there are 5 risk factors we are focusing on now," said Coffee. " One is food temperatures, proper cooking temperatures, hand washing is a very critical one because most of the food-born outbreaks we see are the result of cross contamination." 

If you see a public health emergency-- anyone can report a concern to their local health department or our area's regional emergency tip-line at 423-240-1188.