Ever used one of those self-order touchscreens at McDonald's? Obviously you have. Humans don’t want to talk to other humans, especially when putting down an order for 36 chicken nuggets, and self-service terminals cater for that exact sociopathic desire.
You’ve probably used the self-order touchscreens at McDonald's several times, and that’s a shame, because scientists have discovered that they’re covered in shit.
Microbiologists from London Metropolitan University and Metro.co.uk recently investigated the cleanliness of the fast food chain’s touchscreen menus, taking swabs from a total of eight restaurants in the UK. And they found that every single one of them showed traces of human faeces and tested positive to coliform bacteria—indicating faeces or sewage contamination.
“We were all surprised how much gut and faecal bacteria there was on the touchscreen machines,” senior lecturer in microbiology Dr Paul Matewele told Metro. “These cause the kind of infections that people pick up in hospitals.”
The probable cause for this is pretty simple: people go to the bathroom and don’t wash their hands, then they go and mash their grubby, bacteria-ridden digits all over the menu. Business Insider explained that the touchscreens are designed to speed up the ordering process “while reducing opportunities for human error.” Apparently the rampant human error involved in basic cleanliness and hygiene wasn’t accounted for.
“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,” says Paul. “These bacteria can be on touchscreen machines for days on end.”
McDonald's rolled out their expensive self-service terminals in the global market after first trialling them in Australia four years ago. They’ve reportedly spent millions of dollars on the devices—only for legions of unsanitary customers to leave their filthy fingerprints all over them.
Responding to the findings, a McDonald's spokesperson insisted that staff and restaurants do everything they can to keep the terminals unsullied. “Our self-order screens are cleaned frequently throughout the day with a sanitiser solution,” they said. “All of our restaurants also provide facilities for customers to wash their hands before eating.”
It’s also worth pointing out that you could probably scratch the surface of literally anything anyone’s ever touched and find poo. Humans are grubs, and the whole world is soiled. Maybe just start taking hand sanitiser everywhere you go.
This article originally appeared on VICE AU.