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News this week that investigators found traces of faeces on every McDonald's food ordering touchscreen unit they tested as well as other types of harmful bacteria at some, has sent social media into a frenzy of disgust.
What on earth did people expect?
In case you're unfamiliar with the story, the hygiene studies were carried out by metro.co.uk and the London Metropolitan University School of Human Science, on touchscreens at eight stores in London and Birmingham. These touchscreens are being trialed by McDonald's at a number of its restaurants throughout the UK with a view to emulating the rollout that started in the US in 2015, through which most of its 14,000 US locations will be fitted with touchscreens by 2020. Used by diners to place their orders before they head to the counter to collect their food, they are said to increase restaurant efficiency, speed up the ordering process and reduce potential worker error.
McDonald's says it cleans its touchscreens throughout the day and that it provides facilities for customers to wash their hands before eating. Although I haven't eaten in McDonald's in years, I have waited in stores for friends to order and have noticed that staff are very quick to use their sprayers and cleaning cloths when they're able, but unless this happens after each and every diner (or touchscreen user), then there's every chance that germs will be picked up by other restaurant users and staff and people will get sick.
And when did you ever see anyone washing their hands between opening their potentially contaminated container and beginning their meal? No - neither did I!
With these touchscreens becoming so much a part of our daily lives, from the self-service checkouts blighting our supermarkets to self-check-ins at the GP surgery and hospital departments, as well as the more familiar units at cashpoints and on card payment machines and even the units we use to stop traffic so we can cross the road, we're potentially picking up someone else's germs. It's life.
Never has the advice that used to be on toilet paper decades ago been more important: 'Now wash your hands please'. And may I add, 'Don't read or even flick through the magazines left in piles in waiting rooms of any sort'. You simply don't know what's on them...
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29th November 2018