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Bacteria Linked To Feces Found In Nearly Half Of Fast Food Soda Fountains

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Didn't think the fast food industry could get any grosser? Well it can.

This time, it's not the food, but the soda fountains to be worried about. According to Tom Laskawy, a media and technology professional and blogger for grist.org, a team of microbiologists from Hollins University found that 48% of sodas tested from the fast food fountains contain coliform bacteria, which is typically fecal in origin. And most bacteria found were antibiotic resistant, as icing on the cake.

The microbiologists published their findings in the International Journal of Food Microbiology. They tested 90 beverages from 30 soda fountains. Their abstract states:

...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.

Laskawy notes that only one recorded outbreak linked to a soda fountain has occurred, and that was ten years ago. But on a smaller scale, these bacteria could cause sickness on an individual level that can go unreported.


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