The world is a dirty place. All you have to do is step outside and look at the dirt to realize that’s true. But at the very least, you still probably hope that everything around you isn’t covered in poo. Sadly, that might not be the case. Earlier this year, we looked at a British study that found a surprising amount of fecal bacteria in coffee shop ice. And now, the Brits are back at it again with a new report, this time in Metro, titled… brace for it… “Poo found on every McDonald’s touchscreen tested.”
As McDonald’s continues to roll out touchscreen ordering at locations around the world, most people are noting the convenience of these new systems. But, yeah, the reporters at Metro had a different thought: “I wonder how much poop is on these,” they apparently pondered. As a result, the paper took swabs at eight different McDonald’s locations in the UK: six in London and two in Birmingham. All eight tested positive for coliforms, a type of bacteria found in feces—as well as other places—that’s often used as an indicator for potential poo contamination. To put it another way, finding coliforms isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not two thumbs up awesome either.
“We were all surprised how much gut and faecal bacteria there was on the touchscreen machines,” Dr. Paul Matawele, a senior lecturer in microbiology at London Metropolitan University, told Metro. “These cause the kind of infections that people pick up in hospitals.”
In McDonald’s defense, the chain said it understands that not every person who uses touchscreen technology will be completely sanitary, so they wipe down the machines regularly. “Our self-order screens are cleaned frequently throughout the day,” a spokesperson told the paper. “All of our restaurants also provide facilities for customers to wash their hands before eating.”
Regardless, Matawele suggested that using those handwashing facilities after ordering on a touchscreen and before eating your food is probably your best course of action. “Touchscreen technology is being used more and more in our daily lives but these results show people should not eat food straight after touching them, they are unhygienic and can spread disease,” he said. “Someone can be very careful about their own hygiene throughout the day but it could all be undone by using a touchscreen machine once.”
Or if there is a mobile app ordering option, maybe just use that? Then you can be confident that only your own filthy hands have been on it.