KOKOMO, Ind. — It’s two things that aren’t supposed to go together, haircuts and fast food, but the Howard County Health Department has now opened an investigation into a Kokomo Taco Bell after reports of a new hairdo happening in the kitchen.

”I definitely know what kind of things you’re not supposed to be doing inside of kitchens,” said Jennifer Legear. “Cutting hair is one of them.”

Legear said she was the person who took the picture of the two employees. She said she worked at the Taco Bell of Sycamore in Kokomo for about a month before the incident. Legear said she has worked in the food industry for 10 years.

Legear said the haircut happened Thursday morning as the crew was getting ready for the lunch rush. The employee getting the haircut had a trash bag draped around her to keep hair off of her clothing. Legear said the haircut was happening in the kitchen.

”It was only about three feet away from where you make the food,” she said.

Legear said she took the picture and sent it to a few friends, not intending it to be seen by anyone else, but the photo was eventually posted on social media.

”I took it out of sheer shock and showed it to a few friends via Snapchat,” Legear said.

Legear said she was fired from the Taco Bell for taking the picture. Once she was let go from her job, she posted the picture on her own social media.

”People deserve to know what’s going on where their food is being made,” Legear said.

Leagear’s Facebook post has garnered quite a bit of attention with more than 600 comments and close to 900 shares. Legear said most of the reaction has been the same.

”Just pure disgust and disbelief that that’s happening,” she said.

The Howard County Health Department responded to a complaint about the Taco Bell and an inspection was done on Friday. A dept. spokesperson did not confirm or deny the haircut photo was connected to the complaint. The health dept. sent this statement.

“The Howard County Health Department responded to a complaint that was submitted to our office on Thursday 10/19/23 by email. I sent an Inspector to the Taco Bell on West Sycamore St. here in Kokomo on Friday morning 10/20/23. The restaurant was inspected for compliance with the State Food Code 410 IAC 7-24 and Howard County Ordinance. The complaint was discussed with management at that time. The inspection report can be released as public information after a 10-day response period.”

Graham McKeen is a food safety expert and the director of Public and Environmental Health at IU Bloomington.

”We don’t want hair in the food just from a simple contamination standpoint,” he said.

McKeen said local health departments have to investigate complaints.

“Is it really a high risk for food safety or food-borne illness? Is it a critical violation?” McKeen asked. “No, but it’s certainly not ideal and creates that potential for contamination.”

McKeen said he would expect a corrective action plan to be made to fix the violations. He said fines can become a factor if issues aren’t fixed in a timely manner.

Legear said she is frustrated about her firing but happy someone is looking into the Taco Bell. 

”I also feel like I did the right thing, so if this is what it takes to do the right thing then so be it, I’ll find another job,” Legear said.

The Howard County Health Dept. said the Taco Bell has responded to its report and that response will be released when the report is made public 10 days after the investigation.

FOX59 and CBS4 reached out to Taco Bell corporate but have not received a response as of Tuesday afternoon.