Researcher: McDonald’s menus touchscreens are gross and dangerous

As we’ve noted before, we are not big fans of the touch screens that have sprouted up at the renovated McDonald’s. We like human contact and, besides, it takes much longer to order through the technology than to simply walk to the counter.

But now some research in the UK has confirmed the wisdom of our disdain.

A senior lecturer in microbiology at London Metropolitan University tested screens at eight McDonald’s there — six stores in London and two in Birmingham — and found most of them had the bacterium proteus, which comes from human and animal feces.

Dr. Paul Matawele also found listerium and staphylococcus, which is particularly worrying because it’s dangerous and very contagious.

“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 tells Metro.UK. “Someone can be very careful about their own hygiene throughout the day but it could all be undone by using a touchscreen machine once.”

It goes without saying that maybe this was an anomaly. After all, there are 1,300 McDonald’s in the UK. Or maybe it’s just a UK thing and people in the U.S. aren’t as gross. Maybe not.

And considering all the touchscreens we use during the course of a day from gas pumps to ATMs, it’s probably not just what’s for lunch.

McDonald’s wasn’t buying it.

“Our self-order screens are cleaned frequently throughout the day. All of our restaurants also provide facilities for customers to wash their hands before eating,” the companty said in a statement.

It only takes one.

  • David

    I was thinking about this issue today (before the post went up) as I “ordered” my lunch at the company cafeteria. Not only did the wait time for my sandwich go up as a result of these things, its also gross.

  • The Resistance

    If you’re eating at McDonald’s regularly their touch screens are probably the least of your health problems.

  • 212944

    The times, they are a changin’ …

    • That’s from the days when *I* started my working career at McDonald’s . Man, I hated that job.

      • 212944

        “We have a bus in the lot. Nope, make that two buses. Bob, give me 6-12 turn-lay on burgers and five quarters.”

        • I was a ninja on that grill. Runs of 36? No problem Six fillet too? Done

  • Gary F

    Any public restroom with the old style lame air dryer has a door handle that is a science project. They suck so bad no one either waits to dry their hands properly or doesn’t wash them at all.

    Then the ones with the mega blast blower that sprays germs everywhere.

    Sure, the touch screen is probably disgusting, but so are the bathrooms.

  • Rob

    //We like human contact//

    Only up to a point. I’d like to see some studies regarding the percentage of restaurant employees who follow handwashing protocols. Wouldn’t be shocked if the findings were disconcerting.

  • Noelle

    In reality, doesn’t *any* surface we touch regularly out in public have potential to carry contagious bacteria? We touch door handles, credit card machines, the handles to gas pumps, shopping carts…while I think McDonald’s touch screens are dumb, I don’t think they’re the only thing out there to blame for carrying bacteria.

    • Kassie

      Right. I assume the handles to the doors of McDonald’s also has this same bacteria. The tables probably do too. And the pump on the ketchup dispenser.

  • Al

    I use my knuckles for all public touchscreens, elevator buttons… It makes me look like a tiny gorilla, but it makes this public health nerd a lot happier.

    • Definitely going to try that.

    • Rob

      I’m with ya. I also carry a small container of hand sanitizer in my coat pocket; after using salt/pepper shakers or other condiment containers in a restaurant, I do a little hand goo.

  • The Resistance

    The bigger health issue that I worry about when I go to restaurants, gas stations, retail outlets, etc. are the employees who have to come in sick. When I worked a retail job during college I remember coming in even when I was at death’s door because I needed the paycheck badly and part time employees didn’t get paid sick time. I’m sure I spread my colds to thousands during the times I was sick over the holiday shopping season.

    • Kassie

      This! And when I worked in the welfare office, I had a few clients with TB and they all worked places like McDonalds. I promise you there were in there working while sick.

    • This is why some of us were trying so hard to get Minneapolis to establish a sick leave policy, Now it’s time for the rest of the state to get on board.

  • fromthesidelines21

    I’ve actually been looking forward to a touchscreen for ordering. Being a disgusting germ haven is a definite draw back. I just thought the ordering mistakes would go way down. I will admit to using the app to order once so far. That is probably the way to go.

  • The red hat!

  • Guest

    And what about every door handle you use anywhere???

  • Jack

    I have to push a touch screen each day for the elevator in our building. I usually check to see if I recognized someone from my floor in the lobby before pressing the surface. Wash my hands when I get to my location.

    Still I’m coming down with a cold or something. Yuck.

  • JamieHX

    And you should see what’s growing in many ice machines that people often use with their drinks!