TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - If you get online and print out the weekly restaurant inspections in Vigo County, you'll likely find the same critical violations popping up week after week:
- "Observed black debris on soda fountain nozzles"
- "Soda nozzles in bar found with mold"
- "Soda machine found with excessive build up"
If you are one of those people who loves having a big fountain drink at your desk, you might think twice about getting one after reading this.
They are the bread and butter of convenience stores across the country: soda fountains, or soda machines.
In fact, according to the publication Beverage Digest, Americans spend nearly $74 billion on regular and diet soft drinks each year.
It's a huge money-maker for restaurants and gas stations, but also a huge headache for county health departments.
Travella Myers is the Health Inspector for Vigo County.
She says nasty nozzles are perhaps the most common, critical violation in every county and every state.
"Usually, it's a slimy film, an orange slimy film, or it can be black. The nozzle has the air flow that it needs to grow bacteria," Myers said, referring to the moldy buildup.
That bacteria can be dangerous.
So, News 10's Patrece Dayton lead a small investigation to find out if these fiscal fountains were also fountains full of filth.
Armed with sterile swabs and an undercover camera, Patrece visited five Terre Haute restaurants and five gas stations.
A soda was purchased at each place, and the swabs were used to secretly swipe the soda spouts, inside and outside to see if you are guzzling germs.
The used swabs were then taken to a lab at Terre Haute Regional Hospital.
Microbiology Technical Coordinator, Mary McDonald agreed to process the samples to see if the contaminants contained certain bacteria.
She streaked the findings from each place on Auger Plates, numbered them one through ten with no location names and placed them in an incubator to grow at 36 degrees for 48 hours.
McDonald was testing for mold, fungus, fecal matter, E-Coli and salmonella: germs that could potentially make you think before you drink.
Tuesday, Patrece will show you the results of her test and do her best to answer the question, "What exactly are you drinking with that soda?"
- NOTE: This is not the fault of the product provided to the fountain machine. It is based on the cleanliness and maintenance of the fountain machine provided by the business.
To look at the restaurant inspections, click here.
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