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Soda Can Germs: Investigation Finds Surprising Bacteria

Hear what a local doctor has to say about the bacteria found on soda cans.

We hear a lot about the health risks of drinking soda, but what about the cans themselves?

A CBS TV station tested soda cans bought at a variety of common locations and found stenotrophomonas maltophilia, pseudomonas luteola and enterobacter cloacae, on the tops of soda cans.

Connie Cutler, Director of Infection Prevention for Main Line Health, told CBSPhilly that these kinds of germs are usually only a danger to people with compromised immune systems.

So it looks like it’s a good idea to wash that can before you drink, but most people should be OK if they don’t.

In case these long scientific names don’t mean much to you. Here’s the the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health say about them:

  • Stenotrophomonas maltophilia: “Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is an emerging multidrug-resistant global opportunistic pathogen.”
  • Pseudomonas luteola: “Chryseomonas luteola has only rarely been reported as a human bacterial pathogen.”
  • Enterobacter cloacae: “Enterobacter cloacae is not a primary human pathogen but has been considered to be an important cause of nosocomial infections.”



bigben February 18, 2013 at 11:55 PM
this is stupid science. When you pop the tab into the soda, the acidity of the soda will kill off some germs. Then your stomach acid will take care of the rest. So the correct experiment would've been to dip the tab into the soda, and stomach acid, before testing for growth on a nutrient rich agar plate.
Douglas J. Trainor February 19, 2013 at 05:04 AM
Some could go airborne and end up in the nose, nasal passages, lungs, eyes. Then there are the ducts in the mouth. Standard disclaimer for compromised immune systems, the very young, the very old -- very likely not a big problem otherwise. But not all soda is so acidic. I've seen a lot of soot from diesel trucks on the bottom of the circular can groove, depending on how the cans were stored or transported.
Mr. Ed February 19, 2013 at 11:49 AM
I'm glad I only drink beer out of a can. The alcohol probably kills all those germs as it's going down my throat.
Joe Phoenix February 19, 2013 at 12:47 PM
Soda can germs! Not Beer can germs. You should be safe.
Catherine February 19, 2013 at 12:56 PM
This is shocking? That the tops of cans are filthy?
Douglas J. Trainor February 19, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Any can with a pull top, as the pull tabs are harder to clean than the circular grooves. And any food can that you open with a can opener too. Can openers harbor the same pathogens, unless cleaned religiously.
Josh February 19, 2013 at 02:59 PM
AOL is the parent company of Patch and Huffington. They just posted their first quarterly profit in a zillion quarters. This type of filler article is not going to help AOL continue (start) its turnaround. This isn't even a long enough BS read for the privvy...
Douglas J. Trainor February 19, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Forget can tops for a moment, self-serve drink dispensers at fast food restaurants are filthy. The spot where you press your finger is filthy from fingers. The piece that presses up against the cup is filthy from refills. And one study measured coliform bacteria in 48% of the beverages you'd be drinking. Here's a popular press article with a link to the research article -- "48% of Fast Food Soda Fountains Contain Bacteria that Grew in Feces" -- http://bit.ly/LwpC0u
Douglas J. Trainor February 19, 2013 at 03:18 PM
"The most effective cleaning method was rinsing and wiping combined (P < 0.0003), while wiping alone was not as effective as moist wiping (P = 0.038) or rinsing with water (P = 0.061). Food cans were more easily cleaned than beverage cans because of the tab area. Soil type influenced the degree of effectiveness of the cleaning methods, with mean log10 reduction values for each type at 3.4 and 3.1 for food and beverage cans (tab area excluded), respectively." -- excerpted from the abstract of "A microbial survey of food service can openers, food and beverage can tops and cleaning methodology effectiveness", Michaels et al., in Food Service Technology, Volume 3, Issue 3-4, pages 123–132, September/December 2003 -- http://bit.ly/11SLopN
Douglas J. Trainor February 19, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Which would you rather touch or lick? (scroll down for answer) A kitchen sponge, money, a computer keyboard, a toilet seat, a light switch? . . . . . . . . . . 1. kitchen sponge (most dirty) 2. money 3. computer keyboard 4. toilet seat 5. light switch (least dirty) http://mythbustersresults.com/hidden-nasties
Josh February 19, 2013 at 05:09 PM
So you click on links and comment and you become more valuable yet are given no compensation for your time and energy. I comment for fun, 70% of posts are emotional, 30% have a point, of those 30% only 20% are ' right minded' comments. Those are real stats for the public in general. I have multiple people surf with my devices so the algorithm shows me more than less of my 'profile' - try it out, it's fun to see what ads pop up!
bigben February 19, 2013 at 06:59 PM
yes, if the can had been visible soot, I think I would wipe it first or rinse it before I open it. OMG, too much germaphobia. OCD is making us all more susceptible to infections. Regardless, the experiment shown on TV was poor science. What did they compare it to ? if I rubbed my fingers onto that agar dish, I bet plenty of nasty things will grow too.
bigben February 19, 2013 at 07:00 PM
That's the right attitude. Let nature take its course.
bigben February 19, 2013 at 07:03 PM
This is totally OCD. Remember when there were public drinking fountains ? How many people did those kill ? The reason they are gone is because the bottled water companies started a campaign to make consumers think its so hazardous to drink from a hose or from a spigot. So maybe SodaStream can start the same campaign about buying canned soda.
bigben February 19, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Yes, the experiment certainly shows the best way to sanitize the cans. The bottom line however, is we have defense mechanisms in place to deal with this kind of stuff. Ever lick your finger ? that's probably just as filthy as cans.
Ed Jones February 20, 2013 at 01:09 AM
Yeh, the water in the big bottle is probably bacteria free - but what happens when you turn it upside down and the water goes into this reservoir that lets in air from your room (with it's bacteria) and also contains the neck of the big bottle that everyone and their brother handled. Perfect place for bacteria to multiply is in that holding tank. I'd rather drink from a faucet or a 500 liter bottle.

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