Traces of faeces have been found on every single McDonald’s touchscreen swabbed in an investigation by metro.co.uk.
Samples were taken from the new machines that have been rolled out at restaurants across the country – every one of them had coliforms.
Senior lecturer in microbiology at London Metropolitan University Dr Paul Matewele said: ‘We were all surprised how much gut and faecal bacteria there was on the touchscreen machines. These cause the kind of infections that people pick up in hospitals.
The machines have been rolled out in McDonald’s branches across the UK (Picture: Susannah Ireland for metro.co.uk)
‘For instance Enterococcus faecalis is part of the flora of gastrointestinal tracts of healthy humans and other mammals. It is notorious in hospitals for causing hospital acquired infections.’
Unsuspecting diners choose their food on the touchscreens then head to the server to pick up their burgers more often than not without washing their hands.
A screen at one branch was found to have staphylococcus, a bacteria that can cause blood poisoning and toxic shock syndrome. Dr Matewele said: ‘Seeing Staphylococcus on these machines is worrying because it is so contagious. ‘It starts around people’s noses, if they touch their nose with their fingers and then transfer it to the touchscreen someone else will get it, and if they have an open cut which it gets into, then it can be dangerous.
‘There is a lot of worries at the moment that staphylococcus is becoming resistant to antibiotics. However, it is still really dangerous in places like Africa where it can cause toxic shock.’ Metro.co.uk’s study with the university’s school of human sciences involved swabs taken from eight McDonald’s restaurants. Six in London and two in Birmingham. Listeria bacteria was found in Oxford Street and Holloway Road branches. It can cause listeriosis which can lead to miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.
Dr Matewele said: ‘Listeria is another rare bacterium we were shocked to find on touchscreen machines as again this can be very contagious and a problem for those with a weak immune system.’ Three quarters of the screens swabbed showed traces of the bacteria proteus.
Dr. Paul Matewele , microbiology and immunology expert, was shocked at the findings (Picture: Susannah Ireland for metro.co.uk)
Dr Matewele said: ‘Proteus can be found in human and animal faeces. It is also widely distributed in soil. It can cause urinary tract infections and is also one of the hospital acquired infections where it may responsible for septicaemia. ‘Klebsiella is also from the gut and mouth, they are associated with urinary tract infections, septicemia and diarrhoea. Some species can infect the respiratory tract resulting in pneumonia.’
Touchscreens at Holloway Road, McDonald’s where listeria and other bacteria were found (Picture: Susannah Ireland for metro.co.uk)