Monday, January 11, 2010

Fountain Drinks May Contain Fecal Matter

The Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reported that Hollins University researchers discovered that fountain drinks may contain measurable amounts of fecal matter. In fact, after analyzing "90 beverages from 30 soda fountains in Virginia," investigators discovered that "more than 11%...contained Escherichia coli and over 17% contained Chryseobacterium meningosepticum." According to the paper in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, "other opportunistic pathogenic microorganisms isolated from the beverages included species of Klebsiella, Staphylococcus, Stenotrophomonas, Candida, and Serratia."

Interestingly, however, "ice and tap water from the machines didn't test positive for any bacteria," according to the New York Daily News. "So far, the source of the bacteria is unknown," but the study authors say the bacteria may be "actually establishing themselves on the lining of the plastic tubing." Although "there were no reported outbreaks of food-borne illness related in the Roanoke area at the time of the study," there is still concern. "Since a less dangerous form of E. coli was found in the soda machines, it's possible that the machines could host more virulent strains of E. coli," and "if the machines can harbor bacteria, they may also harbor viruses." Yikes.

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