A new investigation has unveiled the dangerous thing you could be exposing your kids to when the touchscreens at your local McDonald’s .
Investigators took samples from new machines that had been rolled out in branches throughout the country and found worrying results on each machine tested.
Turns out they found traces of faeces – as in actual poo.
‘We were all surprised how much gut and faecal bacteria there was on the touchscreen machines,’ said Dr Paul Matawele, senior lecturer in microbiology at London Metropolitan University, who analysed the samples.
‘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.’
What’s even more concerning is that unsuspecting visitors are touching the screens to choose their food and then eating immediately after picking up the germs, without washing their hands first. So the bacteria is going directly from the contaminated touchscreens into diners’ mouths and digestive systems.
One restaurant even held a screen that was found to contain traces of staphylococcus, a dangerous bacterium that can cause life-threatening conditions like blood poisoning and toxic shock syndrome.
‘Seeing Staphylococcus on these machines is worrying because it is so contagious,’ said Dr Matawele.
‘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.’
‘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,’ said Dr Matawele.
The investigation took swabs from touchscreens at eight different branches – six in London and two in Birmingham.
A McDonald’s spokesman told metro.co.uk that their ‘self-order screens are cleaned frequently throughout the day’, however Dr Matawele said that it could not have been ‘strong enough’ and that ‘these bacteria can be on touchscreen machines for days on end’.
To avoid the germs our advice would be to wash your hands properly before eating if possible, or at least use a antibacterial hand gel.