ROANOKE, Va., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Beverages from soda fountain machines could contain harmful bacteria that cause gastric distress, researchers in Virginia said.
Researchers at Hollins University in Roanoke said they found cause for alarm after examining 90 beverages, including sugar sodas, diet sodas and water, from 20 self-service and 10 personnel-dispensed machines in fast-food restaurants.
The study "found a significant number of the drinks had levels of bacteria, including coliforms, which would not be allowed in municipal drinking water," said biologist Renee Godard, head of environmental studies at Hollins.
Forty-eight percent of the beverages contained coliform bacteria with more than 17 percent containing Chryseobacterium meningosepticum and more than 11 percent containing Escherichia coli, Godard wrote in a recent issue of the International Journal of Food Microbiology.
There was no difference in levels of contamination between beverage types or between those dispensed from self-service and personnel-dispensed soda fountains. Most of the identified bacteria showed resistance to one or more of the 11 antibiotics tested, Godard said.