An unexpected side effect of automating fast food restaurants may be the threat to human health posed by touch-screen technology.
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.
‘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.
There’s more at the link.
A big part of the problem, of course, is that hygiene standards differ between individuals and communities. Some regard frequent hand-washing and/or sanitation as the norm; others don’t. When everyone’s using the same touch-screen facilities, cross-contamination is inevitable.
I hadn’t thought about this when commenting in previous articles on the rise of automation and its threat to jobs. Perhaps a new job might emerge – “touch-screen sanitizer”!