Nearly Half of Fast Food Soda Fountains Contain Bacteria that Grew in Feces

Brian Merchant writes on treehugger:

SodaFountainSeems like the reasons to not eat at fast food restaurants just keep on piling up. We’ve heard all about the unseemly practices that go into obtaining their meats and innumerable other horrors. But now, let’s look at the quality of the soda fountains — another staple of the fast food experience. A recent study has revealed that a full 48% of soda fountains at fast food restaurants contain coliform bacteria — a bacteria that grows in feces. Oh, and 11% contained E. Coli, too.

The study was done by a team of microbiologists at Hollins University, and the findings were just published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.

From the abstract of the scientists’ report:

Coliform bacteria was detected in 48% of the beverages and 20% had a heterotrophic plate count greater than 500 cfu/ml. [...] More than 11% of the beverages analyzed contained Escherichia coli [E. Coli] and over 17% contained Chryseobacterium meningosepticum. Other opportunistic pathogenic microorganisms isolated from the beverages included species of Klebsiella, Staphylococcus, Stenotrophomonas, Candida, and Serratia. Most of the identified bacteria showed resistance to one or more of the 11 antibiotics tested.

That’s right — not only do soda fountains contain bacteria that originated in poop and potentially dangerous amounts of E. Coli, but they’ve become resistant to antibiotics as well. Fantastic.

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  • Kim

    But why are these soda fountains so full of bacteria? Where is it all coming from? Unsanitary conditions, or what?

    This is an unnerving thought, makes me glad I typically don't order pop from fast-food places…

  • Synapse

    I'm not really certain how this makes sense. Having worked in Fast Food as a kid, Soda fountains are literally just machines that you hook up in back to bags of Syrup and faucet (occasionally filtered) water. Your options of where this stuff comes from is limited to the environment around the soda fountain (sugary water that's never cleaned certainly could allow for bacteria growth) or the plants the syrup/water comes from.

    • Guest

      It's from people touching the fountains with their poopy hands.

  • http://www.westminsterco-realestate.com/ Adrian

    Yuck. Good that I haven't had a soda from a fountain in a long time. That is nasty and disgusting.

  • swimmin-in-it

    Have you never seen that episode of Mythbusters? Fecal matter is everywhere. Literally. It got on their Control, which was handled in highly sanitized conditions.

    This is discussed here:

    http://msgboard.snopes.com/message/ultimatebb.php?/ubb/get_topic/f/35/t/001754/p/1.html

  • swimmin-in-it

    Have you never seen that episode of Mythbusters? Fecal matter is everywhere. Literally. It got on their Control, which was handled in highly sanitized conditions.

    This is discussed here:

    http://msgboard.snopes.com/message/ultimatebb.p

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