Bacteriological, hygienic, and public health aspects of food and drink from vending machines

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Since the 1950s, the vending machine has contributed to a revolution in how we buy food and drink. Despite the very obvious benefits associated with this technology, vending machines have not always been welcome by the customers they are intended to serve. Although occasionally blamed for various nonspecific illnesses, there have been very few studies about the microbiology of food and drink served from such machines. The few studies that have been reported have found high total viable counts (TVC) and coliform organisms in dispensed drinks. In part, these poor results appear to be due to inadequate cleaning procedures or machine design. Vended hot drinks should be sufficiently hot to pasteurize any contaminated water supply. However, it appears that some machines may not be able to maintain an adequate temperature when used too frequently. Merchandizer vending machines dispense food and drink in cans or other packaging. The microbiology of merchandizer dispensed food and drink should mirror that of the underlying product. However, vending machines are being used increasingly for perishable food, in particular sandwiches and cook-chill foods for subsequent reheating in a nearby microwave oven. The need to distribute such food to widely spread units may increase the risk of some vended foods. There have been three papers reporting serious injury and even death from vending machines falling onto customers. All vending machine companies need to continually monitor the quality and safety of their operations, perferably by using the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-167
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Reviews in Environmental Control
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1992

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