A recent study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology's January print edition made a rather shitty discovery for soda-lovers everywhere: nearly half of all soda fountains are spraying high levels of fecal bacteria into people's cups.
Anyone familiar with the Internet phenomenon Two Girls, One Cup (which we will be kind enough not to link in this post) may have just thrown up in their mouths a little bit.
The study sampled 30 public soda fountains in Roanoke Valley, Virginia, and found that about 48 percent were squirting coliform bacteria -- as well as soda.
The bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illness, although, there was no outbreak of illnesses in Roanoke Valley, the study found. What's more alarming is that it shows that soda fountains may be able to host other bacterias or even certain viruses.
University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba says he's "not too surprised" by the findings
"You see it anytime you have something where people can touch the dispenser," Gerba tells ABC News.
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Despite the situation being fairly common, Gerba says the study is still a cause for alarm because it shows that the nozzles on the fountains are capable of harboring more dangerous strains of E. coli than originally known.
"That's what I would worry about because you get one of these tips contaminated and you contaminate a lot of soda," Gerba says. "It suggests it's a route for transmitting something like Norovirus (which causes gastrointestinal illness) because fecal contamination is occurring."
Either way, you may want to rethink that free refill.