McDonald's Touchscreen Machines Test Positive for Fecal Matter, Investigation Finds

A branch of McDonald's is pictured on February 19, 2018 in Bath, England. An investigation has found that touchscreens used in the outlets tested positive for fecal matter. Getty

Touchscreens installed at McDonald's branches in Britain have tested positive for fecal matter, an journalistic investigation has claimed.

Samples were taken by experts from machines at eight restaurants, including six in London and two in Birmingham.

Customers use the touchscreens to choose and pay for their food and then they pick up their order at the counter.

But Paul Matawele, senior lecturer in microbiology at London Metropolitan University, which carried out the study in conjunction with, said he was surprised at how much gut and faecal bacteria were on the machines, concluding that many people did not wash their hands before they used them.

Among the bacteria found were staphylococcus, which can cause blood poisoning and toxic shock syndrome, as well as as enterococcus faecalis which "is notorious in hospitals for causing hospital acquired infections".

"Seeing staphylococcus on these machines is worrying because it is so contagious," he 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."

Listeria was found in two London branches which Matewele said was "another rare bacterium we were shocked to find on touchscreen machines" and one which is contagious and can cause problems for people with a weak immune system.

"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 told Metro.

In a statement to Newsweek, the chain said that the screens were regularly washed with disinfectant.

"Our self-order screens are cleaned frequently throughout the day with a sanitiser solution. All of our restaurants also provide facilities for customers to wash their hands before eating," a spokesperson said.

The restaurants tested in London were in Oxford Circus, Holloway Road, Oxford Street, Kensington High Street, Seven Sisters Road and Bethnal Green in London. In Birmingham, they were in Ramp and Pigeon Park.

Only eight restaurants were tested out of 1,300 McDonald's restaurants in the UK, so the results do not necessarily represent all branches.