Bacteria in soda fountain machines may be long-lasting: study

March 26, 2013

​Roanoke, VA – Soda fountain machines in restaurants and stores may contain bacteria for “long periods of time,” according to a new study from Hollins University.

Researchers took 90 samples from soda fountain machines at fast-food restaurants and convenience stores in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley – once in June 2009 and then 13 months later. They found coliform bacteria – a type of bacteria that could indicate fecal contamination – in almost half of the 90 samples taken both years.

No connection was found between employer self-reported disinfecting practices and the amount of contamination, which led researchers to conclude that disinfection might disturb bacteria colonies but not remove them.

The study includes recommendations for consumers, including asking restaurant and store owners for machine surveillance and letting some of the beverage flow out before filling self-serve cups.