Revolting find on Macca’s touchscreens
Traces of faeces have been detected on every single McDonald's self-service touchscreen tested in an investigation by a UK tabloid.
Swabs were taken from kiosks in eight McDonald's locations - six in London and two in Birmingham - by Metro and tested by London Metropolitan University microbiologist Dr Paul Matawele.
"We were all surprised how much gut and faecal bacteria there was on the touchscreen machines," he told the paper.
"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."
One of the screens tested positive for the staphylococcus bacteria, which can cause blood poisoning and toxic shock syndrome. "Seeing staphylococcus on these machines is worrying because it is so contagious," Dr Matawele said.
"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."
Other bacteria detected included listeria, which can cause miscarriages in pregnant women, proteus and klebsiella, according to Metro.
"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," Dr Matawele 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, septicaemia and diarrhoea. Some species can infect the respiratory tract resulting in pneumonia."
He said bacteria could stay on touchscreens for "days on end".
Despite a McDonald's spokesperson saying the kiosks are "cleaned frequently throughout the day", Dr Matawele said the disinfectant "could not have been strong enough".
"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."
McDonald's has spent millions of dollars rolling out its self-service kiosks in global markets after trialling them in Australia with the now abandoned Create Your Taste menu four years ago.
In the US, franchisees were required to fork out up to $US125,000 per restaurant installing the machines, according to Business Insider.
McDonald's chief executive Steve Easterbrook earlier this year said the self-service kiosks were delivering results, increasing average order size.
"What we're finding is when people dwell more, they select more," he told CNBC.
"There's a little bit of an average cheque boost. If you think about only two years ago, if you were a customer there were two ways you can get served at McDonald's. You walked to the front counter and line up and take your drink and find a table or you go through the drive through.
"We're introducing many options. They can order through mobile, they can come kerbside and we'll run it out as well as the existing traditional ways. You can pay in different ways and customise your food in different ways. I think we're trying to add more choice and variety."
McDonald's Australia has been contacted for comment.