In a recent study, scientists in Southern California revealed why avid soda fountain visitors should rethink their beverage choices.
The scientist’s study revealed a shocking truth about fast food soda fountains—they are a breeding ground for bacteria. Bacteria levels in these particular fountains were found to surpass the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations for fast-food restaurants in eastern Coachella Valley, according to Parade.
Eastern Coachella Valley is an area known to house low-income and Latino families who already struggle to access clean water. Water pollution in California isn’t an isolated incident, either. Federal officials have identified dangerous levels of harmful bacteria including E. coli, salmonella, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa over two hours outside of Los Angeles.
A study posted in the Drinking Water Journal explained that over 40 percent of water samples from fast-food soda fountains had coliform bacteria present. Despite only a small area in California being studied, scientists believe consumers should be wary of using soda fountains nationwide.
Thomas Hile, lead author of the research study, explained, “We cannot say that soda fountain contamination is only in the eastern Coachella Valley.”
He then continued, “It’s a general problem that I believe is kind of overlooked.”
Symptoms consumers can experience after consuming beverages from contaminated fountains include gastrointestinal issues, respiratory illnesses, and hepatitis. In addition, drinking from a contaminated fountain can even lead to death.
Researchers Weigh In On The Cause Of Soda Fountain Bacteria
The cause of contamination within soda fountains can be directed to biofilms. Biofilms, a slim-like collection of bacteria, stick together and to surfaces—namely piping in the fountains.
While researchers from Hollins University suggested that anti-microbial tubing in soda fountains could remedy the issue, there currently aren’t mandated inspections or regulations on beverage delivery systems.
Until these types of regulations exist, bacteria will continue to develop inside fast-food soda fountains. Unless customers ask employees to thoroughly inspect the fountains, they’ll have to temporarily kiss their cups goodbye.