This ought to keep you out of those fast food places!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Fast-Food Soda Fountains

by Slashfood Editor, Posted Jan 7th 2010 @ 5:30PM
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Photo: cafemama, Flickr
by Catherine Donaldson-Evans

The latest fast food "ick factor" isn't in the burgers or fries -- it's in the soda.

A group of microbiologists at Virginia's Hollins University found alarming levels of bacteria, possibly from feces, in fast-food soda fountains.

A scary 48 percent of machine beverages tested contained coliform bacteria – which can originate in fecal matter, the International Journal of Food Microbiology study showed. Even more worrying: Most of the bacteria identified were resistant to antibiotics.

"Coliform bacteria was detected in 48 percent of the beverages," the team's abstract states. "More than 11 percent of the beverages analyzed contained Escherichia coli [E. coli]."

Several other types of bacteria also were discovered -- including Staphylococcus (Staph). Most showed resistance to one or more of the 11 antibiotics used in the study, lead researcher and Hollins biology professor Renee Godard told AOL Food.

The scientists tested 90 drinks in 30 soda fountains within a 20-mile radius of the university's campus in Roanoke.

Godard wouldn't name the fast-food outfits and convenience stores studied but said they included "all the typical places you would go to get a soda."

"This is probably happening in restaurants too," she said.

Godard said the root of the problem is the failure to properly clean the soda machines, where bacteria fester in the plastic tubing. Flushing the tubes out with sanitizer is the solution.

Godard said the response from the fast food and soda industries and the Department of Public Health has been "weak."

There has been only one epidemic of illness linked to a soda fountain on record, about a decade ago. That doesn't account for food poisoning unknowingly caused by tainted beverage machines.

"There isn't any major food-borne outbreak. It's not like we've had some massive mortality from these," said Godard. "Soda fountain beverages could be linked to gastrointestinal upset that could go unreported."
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Ugh! Thank you for the wake up call. You would think soda would be one thing they couldn't contaminate, but guess again. I gave up eating in fast food places and most restaurants. A neighboring state had a big outbreak of hepatitis (dozens sick and 100's had to get preventative shots). All cases originated at a McD's from an infected worker.
    4211 days ago
    Ok, first thought:


    d thought: you break your 6+ month silence with icky stories?!

    Quickly followed by eeeewwwww
    4212 days ago
    Nasty, huh? Add all of your insights to the employees handling germy money and then your food, the meat recalls that are still happening, the general unhealthiness of the food itself and I have to ask myself, "Why do I go there?" YUCK!
    4214 days ago
    YUK! I don't often go to fast food restaurants anymore, but I do stop in the convenience store and get a huge diet soda for 69 cents once in a while ... Well, NEVER, and I mean NEVER again!

    Thanks for posting this ... EWWWWWW!!!!!
    4214 days ago
    ug! How sickening! I don't think I want that anymore either.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

    It open's our eyes for sure.

    Sandy emoticon
    4214 days ago
  • RNICOLE278
    The other day on my lunch break, I was parked in the KFC parking lot eating my food that I had gotten from the grocery store. Well, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a KFC employee standing by the trash can near the front door. She then proceeded to empty the full bag of garbage without any gloves on her hands, and then replaced the trash can with a new bag. All I could think of was her going back in there and not washing her hands and picking up some chicken and serving it to someone.....YUCK!!!!! Now you know where that e-coli could've come from!
    4214 days ago
    4214 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5078271
    We know where e. coli comes question is how in the world it would get in the tubing or the machines themselves in the first place? YUCK!
    4214 days ago
    Yuck! I bet it's the same in convenience stores too! I'm glad I made a goal to give up soda! Thanks for sharing!
    Joanne emoticon emoticon
    4214 days ago
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