Poop in your soda pop


Do you know where your soda came from?/Ryn Gargulinski

Anyone who thinks soda tastes like crap may be on to something.

Those soda dispensers found at many fast food and other dining establishments can be a playground for fecal bacteria.

This latest germ paranoia was brought to light by ABC news, which reported on a study of 30 such soda machines in Virginia. Nearly half the machines spewed soda containing coliform bacteria, which often comes from fecal contamination.

Don’t fret. Anyone drinking directly from the can or that 2-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper that’s been in the fridge for two months is safe – unless, of course, you forgot to wipe the top clean of rat droppings.

But those who drink water from similar dispensers are not.

Human contact is to blame. Any time people get their grubby hands on things germs can thrive. The initial hypothesis was the bacteria came from the plastic dispenser nozzles, but restaurant managers said they cleaned those things daily.

So maybe it’s the little plastic tubes inside the machine.

Or maybe it’s little green men who come poop in the piping in the middle of the night.

Although 48 percent of the soda samples tested were contaminated with coliform bacteria, only 20 percent had levels that were higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deems safe for our drinking water.

Coliform bacteria may also be rife in your kitchen sink, according to University of Arizona’s own Charles Gerba, a microbiologist, garbologist and “germ guru” who is as knowledgeable as he is enthusiastic about the stuff.

He was quoted in the ABC story saying he was not surprised by the soda machine findings. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Gerba last May for a column on germs.

“There is more fecal bacteria in the kitchen sink than there is in most toilets,” Gerba had said in the interview. “That’s why dogs drink out of the toilets.”

He also pointed out the most bacteria-laden areas in the office include the telephones, keyboards, desktops, the computer mouse and first-floor elevator buttons.

The germiest items in hospitals? Gerba said it’s the television remote control.

Now we can happily add soda pop dispensers to our list.

Every so often a new germ report comes out, instilling fear, loathing and the sudden urge to walk around wearing latex gloves.

But there really is no escape, as best summed up in an ABC report quote by Philip Tierno, director of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center.

“We’re basically bathed in feces as a society,” he said.


wb-logolilWhat do you think?

Do you fear germs or embrace them?

How often do you wash your hands – are you a Lady Macbeth?

Do you use anti-bacterial everything?

When’s the last time you took a shower?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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39 Responses to Poop in your soda pop

  1. leftfield says:

    Sounds to me like the most germ-laden thing out there is people.

    As to your question about my last shower – I take a shower every other week, whether I need one or not.

  2. radmax says:

    Happy Monday Morn Rynski! Urp…excuse me…don’t know whether the topic or blue Monday is making me ill. Sure makes you wonder what the heck the ‘agencies’ that our tax dollars support are doing out there. I’ve often wondered if the cans from a vending machine were safe-evidently not. Rat crap with your RC? It’s a big, wide, wonderful world of microscopic beasties out there to get us, isn’t it.

    • Rynski says:

      happy germy monday, radmax!
      yes, we can get ill from this, that and the other thing – may as well add soda machines to the list.
      we need further studies, definitely, on:
      gas station nozzles
      perfume and makeup samples at local malls
      SHOES we try on with bare feet in shoe stores
      napkin dispensers on restaurant tables
      treadmills at the gym
      hope it all comes from tax dollars at work!

      • radmax says:

        Haha! Yes, I feel an in-depth study is definitely warranted to find out if germs can be dangerous, then a comprehensive follow up on the possibility of lethality if this is found to be the case… 😉

      • Rynski says:

        ..and then a study on the study to make sure the study was studied properly…and maybe throw some lab rats in to see if they get tumors from it all (even though they are naturally highly susceptible to tumors to begin with….)

  3. Jennatoolz says:

    I’ve come to live with the fact that germs are there, and will always be there, no matter where you are or what you’re doing! I wash my hands on a regular basis and all that good stuff. Shower on the daily as well! I like to be clean, but I know there’s still those sneaky germs that stay put. I’ve seen people that are constantly washing their hands, spraying disinfectant on everything, sleeping with a bottle of hand sanitizer, using napkins or “hankies” to open doors — it’s a little excessive in those cases, in my opinion. I’m too lazy to constantly worry about the invisible germs that may, or may not, kill us. 😛

    Happy Monday Ryn! 😀

    • Rynski says:

      hiya jenna!
      i like your philosophy. germs will be there and yes, i’ve also seen folks go to extremes trying to combat them.
      although i’ve yet to see someone who sleeps with hand sanitizer – hahah!
      besides, with all the other dangers out there in the big wide world, like lead content, pollution, global warming and cancer-causing agents in everything from plastic water bottles to candy dyed red, there’s a good chance something else will kill us all way before germs. haha.

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Holy cow, Rynski! Yes, EVERYTHING gives us cancer. It reminds me about when my aunt was trying to sell her home at one point, and she said people would base their decision of not to buying the home just because there were power lines running along the opposite side of the wall in her backyard…they didn’t want to get cancer from them. I was shocked — no pun intended.

        Just live your lives people! Do not waste your energy by fearing the germs and possible cancer! 😛

      • Rynski says:

        you tell ’em, jenna!
        if we sat around and worried about all the gloom and doom reports, we’d be hiding under our beds.
        but then we’d learn dust bunnies were hazardous for some reason or another – haha.
        p.s. love your “shocking” unintended pun – heehee.

      • Andrew Ulanowski says:

        Jenna, did you really say ‘Holy Cow’? Are you from Chicago or something?

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Yes! I really did say “Holy cow!” and nope, I’ve never been to Chicago, but I’ve seen the musical a few times! 😉

        PS – I’m known to pair the word “Holy” with multiple non-religious things. “Holy snaps!” “Holy crap!” and “Holy hair-do!” are a few that I’ve used. “Cow” was just the first word that came into my head at the time…hahah.

      • Andrew Ulanowski says:

        Well, holy cool expressions Batman! I liked ‘holy hair do’ the best. My ‘do’ is rather magical, perhaps even holy first thing in the A.M!

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Hahaha! You can never fail with old school Batman. It’s still quite entertaining these days…including your magical holy morning hair! 😀

  4. azmouse says:

    Living amongst the pooh is our only option.


    • Rynski says:

      love it, AZMouse! i think sawyer and phoebe already have the pooh embracing down pat – hahhahahahah

      • azmouse says:

        I’m a clean-freak, but not a germaphobe.

        Yes, with all the pets around here, there is much pooh to go around and always plenty to pick up.

    • Jennatoolz says:

      I was embracing the pooh yesterday afternoon when I was cleaning up my backyard! Hahah 😉

    • koreyk says:


      I’m getting a bad mental image here!

      That reminds me of a poster I had as a teen captioned “Get Your Sh*t Together”.  It had two smiling anthropogenic turds (drawn in that retro cartoon style popular with underground cartoonists of the time), gloved hands extended, walking towards each other in friendship. 

      • Rynski says:

        i wont’ name names but i know an editor in tucson who keeps a plastic cartoon poop figurine on his/her desk.
        that poster would certainly round out the office decor.

      • koreyk says:

        Silly me;  I meant anthropomorphic, not anthropogenic. 

  5. Guy Smith says:

    Being to clean isn’t good either.to clean and the first germ that sneaks by us wipes us out.Di you ever notice that the people in Mexico drink the water and don’t get sick.
    why?Because they have built up an imunity to the germs.We go down theire with our pristine germ free bodies,and WHAMO.

    • Jennatoolz says:

      Exactly. That is why whenever I have children, I’ll allow them to eat dirt. My future kids will be immune to everything by the time they reach adulthood!

      Kidding of course… 😛

    • Rynski says:

      good point, guy.
      i also remember hearing that anti-bacterial soap and other products just add to that mess, as the bacteria ends up getting stronger and stronger to counteract the soap and cleansers.
      jenna – i would just inject my kids with viruses to take the immunity stuff even further – hahah and YES kidding!

  6. Andrew Ulanowski says:

    Morning Ryn!
    “Or maybe it’s little green men who come poop in the piping in the middle of the night.”      *What a funny line Ryn-O-Rama!*
    And YOU Mouse, embracing the pooh! over the top and hilarious – Did you have your fist in the air when you said that?
    Jenna, you are definitely dedicated to proper pooh handling . . . and the ‘greasy hair’ look, yuck!
    Radmaxianator: Royal Crown and Rat Crap both start with the same letters, coincidence . . . I think not!
    I live with a retired health inspector folks, so the hand washing and the poop monitoring and the bleach and the, and the, oy vey! I don’t know about ‘poop in my soda pop’ but I can say I have shpilkes in my geneckteckessoink!
    Connected with your recent article Ryn on the toys that should have killed us, in the old days eating and wearing dirt as kids was the norm and I’m still here! I don’t drink soda from fountains anymore after getting ill twice from them. Ewwww, ewww, ewwww!

    • Rynski says:

      hiya andrew!
      so glad you liked my ‘poop in the piping’ sentence – i spent weeks on that one – hahahhaah! – also dug your comments on other comments.
      yes, dirt should have killed us, too – esp for those who actually consumed mud pies.
      so sorry to hear you got sick from fountain soda – was it around here and recently? please let us know so we can BOOW – bring our own water (which i always do anyway – but i have used water fountains to refill – eeek!)

    • azmouse says:

      Hi Andrew!
      You envisioned me perfectly!

  7. Mark Hayes says:

    First off,  Coliform bacteria is not the same as Fecal Coliform. Coliform bacteria is a family of bacteria many of them beneficial to life as a whole.  Fecal Coliform and E. coli are small subsets of Coliform Bacteria.  But testing for the family is far easier than testing per strain.  So the health code is written for coliform bacteria.  I do a hundred water tests a year 30 to 45% come back positive for COLIFORM but NEGATIVE for FECALS.  Once again, horror theater media is using scare tactics where none are warranted.

    • Rynski says:

      Hey Mark,
      Thanks for additional info. Hopefully it will help folks feel safer drinking from soda machines et. al.
      Coca-cola was quoted saying it has used soda machines for 120 years so I was astounded more people weren’t lying dead next to them.
      Also love your term “horror theater media” – very funny. This particular horror flick was started by ABC news.

  8. brian says:

    poop in pop not very surprising rat droppings in cereal bacteria is everywhere we are walking talking carriers of some disgusting bacteria im very avid at washing my hands but i do my small part in a world where you have so many ppl leaving public restooms without washing their hands touching doors even serving you food, playing slot machines ect theres no running from it.

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