McDonald’s might need to change their famous tagline from “Billions Served” to “Billions of Bacteria Served” after it was recently revealed that 8 out of 8 do-it-yourself touchscreens in their UK restaurants all tested positive for stuff you really don’t want to touch – especially before handling your food.
Here in the US, touchscreen ordering systems in restaurants are starting to pop up more and more. I’ve encountered them in two different McDonald’s in New Jersey and I was initially ecstatic about this new technology and its promise to let me order more quickly without waiting in long lines.
It was simple. You approach an animated screen at a kiosk, order whatever you like from the menu and pay with a credit card all right there. Then your order is electronically sent to the back line cooks and the food is prepared. A few moments later your order number is called and you’re all set to chow down.
Seems easy enough, right? Well, this health-concerning study revealed that while touchscreen convenience is a bonus, food should not be handled directly after touching the screen. Among the dangerous bacteria found were staphylococcus, which can contaminate your blood and cause toxic shock. Enterococcus faecalis was also found, which is to blame for many serious hospital-acquired infections. Even the rare Listeria was discovered at two London locations – particularly troubling for anyone with weakened immune systems.
In an interview with Newsweek, Paul Matawele, senior lecturer in microbiology at London Metropolitan University, explained that the investigative study was done in conjunction with Metro.co.uk. He shared it was quite a revelation to learn just how many gut and fecal bacteria there were on these machines. This was an alarming indication of poor hygienic practices among people sharing public properties – a literal recipe for disaster.
So far this report seems to remain limited to just the 8 locations tested in London. However, as I stated, this technology is here in the US as well and no matter how much an establishment disinfects their screens, all of us as consumers need to make a more conscious effort to wash our hands after using the bathroom (For the record, I always do).
Otherwise, we will all just have to get used to the fact that our favorite burger might really come with everything … and I mean EVERYTHING on it.