Study Claims Soda Fountains May Dispense Fecal Bacteria
A study of microbial contamination in soda fountains within a 22-mile radius of Roanoke, Virginia, claims that nearly one-half of them harbored “coliform bacteria” that could contain fecal matter. Amy S. White, et al., “Beverages obtained from soda fountain machines in the U.S. contain microorganisms, including bacteria,” International Journal of Food Microbiology, January 2010. Researchers studied 90 beverages of three types (sugar sodas, diet sodas and water) from 30 soda fountains (both self-service and staff-operated) to analyze and evaluate microorganisms with respect to U.S. drinking water regulations. They found that 48 percent of the beverages harbored coliform bacteria, 11 percent contained E. coli and 17 percent had Chryseobacterium meningosepticum. The authors speculated that the contamination could have come from “dispensing with a hand that wasn’t clean or using wet rags to wipe down the machine.”
“These findings suggest that soda fountain machines may harbor persistent communities of potentially pathogenic microorganisms which may contribute to episodic gastric distress in the general population and could pose a more significant health risk to immunocompromised individuals,” according to the study’s abstract. “These findings have important public health implications and signal the need for regulations enforcing hygienic practices associated with these beverage dispensers.” See CNN.com, January 8, 2010.