Like to quench your thirst at the soda fountain? An ABC15 investigation may have you re-thinking that drink.
The ABC15 Investigators recently took a closer look at self-servicing soda fountains in the Valley and found some with bacteria on them.
The county inspects restaurants around the Valley and notes when slime and mold are present on any soda nozzles.
Inspectors at the Maricopa County Environmental Services find substances like “brown/orange organic matter”, “mold in their crevices and orifices”, and “egregious amount of black mold”.
These are just a few of the comments listed in the county’s reports.
The ABC15 Investigators wanted to know if these substances are harmful, so we put 15 fast food restaurants and convenience stores around the Valley to the test.
After randomly selecting the locations, we took sterile swabs from a certified lab and swabbed the soda nozzles. The lab tested the samples for total coliform and Escherichia coli, also called E. coli.
The presence of total coliform is an indicator of fecal matter. E. coli is a more dangerous form.
The lab did not find any E. coli, but four of the locations tested positive for total coliform.
We took our findings to the Arizona Department of Health Services and spoke with the director, Will Humble.
“The data you found suggests that at least in some of those places, they weren't cleaning the nozzles as they should,” said Humble.
He added that when cleaning and sanitizing doesn't happen routinely, bacteria will thrive.
There is no law or regulation that directly relates to bacteria on surfaces. There is one for drinking water and that is used as an industry standard for food-related testing.
Humble said that most of the time, minor side effects may go unnoticed like, “Gastro intestinal, sort of a stomachache, maybe diarrhea, maybe not, upset stomach.”
Our tests showed total coliform on soda nozzles at QuikTrip on Baseline and Rural roads in Tempe, Burger King on West Van Buren at 35th Avenue in Phoenix, Subway on 54th Street at Ray Road in Chandler and Arco am/pm on West Glendale at San Fernando in Glendale.
Find the locations on the map embedded below and click on each location for more details.
“They probably weren't pulling off the soda nozzles like they were supposed to,” said Humble. He also added that it could have been a customer touching the nozzle or a worker using a dirty rag.
We contacted all four locations that tested positive for total coliform. QuikTrip and Burger King issued the following statements.
QuikTrip uses a double-filter water system for our products. At a minimum on a weekly basis, we have our own Quality Assurance Technicians who clean the fountain heads nozzles and diffusers. They also sanitize them. They clean the fountain head, the faceplates and covers. They clean the ice chutes and check the water temperature out of the nozzle. In addition to those items, one of their other duties is to flush the syrup lines with hot water, as well as many other tasks,” said Mike Thornbrugh, QuikTrip’s Manager of Public & Government Affairs.
Food safety and cleanliness are a top priority for BURGER KING® restaurants. We have a comprehensive food safety program that uses multiple and overlapping controls to assure food safety and cleanliness in our restaurants every day.
The BURGER KING® Operations Manual outlines procedures to wash, rinse, sanitize and air dry all components of the soda machines. We have verified that the BURGER KING® restaurant on 3521 W. Van Buren St in Phoenix, AZ is following all of the company’s procedures.
After seeing our test results, Humble had his department run tests of their own. They took 20 samples of soda and tested it for total coliform. They didn’t find any bacteria, but they did pass their information and protocols to the county inspectors.
County inspection reports can be found on the Maricopa County Environmental Quality website .
Or you can search in the database below for violations specifically pertaining to dirty surfaces during inspections conducted over the past three years by the county.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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