The convenient soda can

This morning I missed my U-bahn once again for 10 seconds, literally watching my train running across my finger tips. The 10 seconds delay in my station easily snowballed into a 20 mins of delay to arrive in the office. As soon as my belated connection arrived at the destination, I jumped out of it and dashed through the security check and then jumped again into the elevator directly to the top floor cafeteria for some food and drinks before another busy workday began. Arriving in the cafeteria in a hurry, I immediately rushed in front of the fridge and pulled out a can of soda swiftly to fulfill my thirst (those darn soft drink commercials are too darn good to resist). I took out some coins to pay for the drink, and went straight towards the elevator trying to get back to my office. Suddenly the staff started to stop me and asked in a rising tone: “Sir, do you need a straw or a cup for the drink?”

“No, not necessarily. I always drink it like this.” I was not really attending to his concern at all.

“I would really advise you to take a straw or cup, it’s really dirty to drink from the can directly.” The staff insisted on his opinion and stopped his work to walk towards me, “I really don’t think it’s good for you to drink in that way.”

“Why?” I was nearly shocked towards his serious and sincere approach. Had to stop and listen to what he got that makes him so strongly opinionated on drinking the can directly, a petty trivia I wouldn’t even bother paying attention to at all (I am not a neat freak like this guy, nor as dirty cheap as a hippie either).

“I am concerned with your health sir, I have seen how they stored those tin cans in the storage. It’s so dusty and filthy. One time I was picking up some goods in a storage warehouse, I saw they were spraying some sort of mists on the cans seemingly to preserve the cans from fungus and bugs!” He was getting more serious and started to get everyone’s attention in the room, “God knows what it was in that spray, and we would never rinse or wash those cans before we sell them…”

Enough said. I immediately took one of those cups and thanked him for his honesty and friendly advice.

This is something that I have never heard of before. I went back to my office and simply did a rough check on the internet to see if there is any information available on such issues. To my disappointment, I couldn’t really find any other sources to confirm the consistency and generality of what this kindhearted staff talked about (maybe the internet research was too preliminary due to time constraint). But it makes no sense for him to joke about such issues to a random customer anywhere. Does the warehouse really put some soft of chemical spray on those cans for storage? That image immediately creeps me out. At the same thing I couldn’t get fully convinced either as I couldn’t find any other information about it except from the mouth of this staff.

Whatever that spray is, I don’t want to drink directly from the soda can again, however convenient it is. I’d rather take more germs than those synthetic chemical pesticides… Just curious on probing this issue further, I would like to ask how much you are aware of such claims?

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11 comments

  1. Seems unlikely that it would be legal to spray food items with a toxic that is harmful to humans or one that doesn’t degrade very quickly, especially in Germany. There are probably more chemicals in the soft drink itself. Plus normally a tray of cans is wrapped in plastic, so that should reduce the risk even further.

  2. I doubt it. We Americans usually drink straight out of the can and other than that third eyeball that many of my friends have, I don’t think we look to much different than Germans.

  3. I am always quite suspicious on this one. Same here I have never heard of such things before. Perhaps it was just an isolated case with some lazy and bad warehouse keepers? But I do admit I know little about the storage process for such beverage cans. Such things are not impossible anyway.

  4. they are stored in plastic wraping around 20 of them,once pulled out they dont stay exposed for a long. i think you shouldnt be concerned about safety. even if its true what this guy is talking about, that they use some sprays, they are meant for that purpose so they shouldnt be interfering with human digestion. probably sole soda and all that sugar is more harmfull to ur body than some germs that you may ingest while drinking.
    i red about one extreme case where woman got poisoned and died after drinking dirty can. reportedly she was drinking from a can which was contaminated by some rat urine while on the boat (check: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=on+the+boat+lonely+island&aq=2&oq=on+the+boat ).. anyway,it proved to be some rumor going on and spreading by mail freeking out people around (check:http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/r/raturine.htm). some people are germs freeks and they probably come up with the stories like this because they are personaly repulsed by just thinking about people drinking from dirty cans or whatever.. while this is not imposible in theory it is literaly imposible in practice to get sick by cans for this little time they left exposed in storage and to have poisoned rat jumping and pissing on it. my advice,just keep with the regular business, you cannot preserve yourself from everything.

  5. @Daran: I doubt about it as well. I don’t really think it’s some kind of potent chemical anyway. I still tried to figure out the whole story. Now that you mentioned it, it is true that cans were stored in plastic-packed racks… Will go to ask that staff for detailed info tmr.

    @Meng Bomin: I know, I remember when I was in the States I only drank beers with cans, don’t see any difference in Europe and US, and even China. But it did happen sometime that I found the top of the can quite dusty to drink directly sometimes. But like I said, I’d like to figure out the issue and that’s why I wrote it down to see if others have good info about it.

    @Bnun: could be, I know little about the process as well. It’s just amazing how little we are aware of such things that are vital to our health…

    @Morice:
    “probably sole soda and all that sugar is more harmfull to ur body than some germs that you may ingest while drinking.” Good one, haha I never really care about that one either. I always pick up the classic coke coz I dislike the aspatame aftertaste.
    “i red about one extreme case where woman got poisoned and died after drinking dirty can. reportedly she was drinking from a can … …time they left exposed in storage and to have poisoned rat jumping and pissing on it.” LMAO. those darn germ freaks… poisoned rat jumping and pissing on it is quite a dramatic scene, I don’t know why but it immediately reminds me of Tom and Jerry…lol… I would say at most you get to spend more time with your toilet seat in the most unfortunate scenario…
    “my advice,just keep with the regular business, you cannot preserve yourself from everything.” I probably will and forget about it in a few days anyway. But before I do that I just want to make sure what on earth is going on with the storage of those tin cans. Very good infomration you gave, thanks a lot! Meanwhile I am gonna go confirm with more details from that staff tomorrow. most likely he misinterpreted something when he saw the spray of the mist on those cans.

    1. Hi. Hope your day’s a good one. I spent 17 years working in Environmental Health in Texas beginning around 1975. In those days the concern was with what was growing inside the bottles. There were people assigned to check warehouses where soda was stored, holding a light behind random bottles while looking through for visible growth. Frequently entire pallats were discarded by condemnation when organic globs were observed in the bottles.

      I’ve wondered over the years what, precisely, was growing in there. I could have, in those times, examined laboratory test results or the literature, of which there was a lot, but I never did.

      As for the spray , I’d say anyone who uses a can opener on a can of food probably has a good shot at contaminating it, either from somethingg there as a residue on the lid, or on the can opener. Food or drink.

      Mechanical contamination could happen anywhere in the production proces, even back when the cans were being manufactured.

      1. Thanks for the information. Such information is indeed little known to the public I think. Indeed there could be contamination at every step. As far as it makes sure there’s no toxic chemicals in the contamination I wouldn’t really mind to take those germs on the can.

        ” I spent 17 years working in Environmental Health in Texas beginning around 1975. ”

        Interesting, it also happened to be my specialization back in the college. Are you checking the food and beverage regulation and standards? What was it like in those field back then?

  6. Hi. I spent several years in the field but most in management. In the 1970s and early ’80s it was an uphill battle in Texas. Realities of where the power was – the businesses – were always there in the background, trying to influence by back door whispers, trying to squash, trying to cover up, trying to avoid compliance in any way where cost was involved.

    The legal battles were an education, the epidemiology was an exciting challenge when there was an outbreak of one sort or another. Staffing affairs were hell …. every worker wanted to be a kickass take-names sort of regulator, which forgets the reality we were all public servants and weren’t always the best judges of what’s best for the public. Working with CDC was worth a lot of smiles when enough of an outbreak came down to bring them into the picture … eventually I decided I was wasting my life doing something someone else could do just as well and maybe enjoy more.

    1. “The legal battles were an education, the epidemiology was an exciting challenge when there was an outbreak of one sort or another. Staffing affairs were hell”

      Respect for that. I was merely touching a bit of environmental health subjects in college and immediately felt I can’t be the guy in that field. Just thought the fact that I’d rather dig history books for days than peeping even once on those environmental science textbooks made it almost impossible for me to enjoy my future career in that sector…

      “eventually I decided I was wasting my life doing something someone else could do just as well and maybe enjoy more.”

      Actually as soon as I read you worked in the environmental health sector before, I was thinking about the film Erin Brockovich and that famous case which made this movie. I can’t really say anything in depth about environmental health issues. Just don’t think I got the patience to work in the industry. Kudos to your endeavor in that sector for almost 20 years.

  7. Thanks for the reply. Life’s too short to spend it doing anything but learning what we should have been doing if we’d been smarter, I reckons.

    Enjoying your history

    Gracias,
    J

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