Aug 08 2008

Cans of worms?

Category: GeneralDave @ 11:14

It’s a hot summer’s day. You go into a small shop and take a can of something cold and fizzy out of the fridge, pay for it and, before you’ve even left the shop, you’ve pulled the ring-pull and taken a long, satisfying slug that’s coolly trickling down your throat. Great!

Now we’ve all done this at one time or another but think about this for a moment: you’ve just stuck into your mouth something that you have no idea where it’s been nor now it’s been stored. You didn’t clean it before drinking, did you? Of course not.

Have you ever been in the back room of a small corner shop? Or even a big one? They’re not the cleanest of places. The cans are usually delivered in shrink-wrap packs which keeps the worst of the dirt off. However, if a pack is opened and then only partly used, some of the remaining cans will be left uncovered. The pack may be on or near the floor so any dust kicked around (and there will be quite a bit) is going to land on the exposed cans.

Now here’s the thing: places like that are often frequented by mice, rats, cockroaches, and other insects. Apart from leaving their traces on the floor, they may well walk across the cans, urinating and/or defecating as they go. When you open the can, as the liquid leaves the can and enters your mouth, some of it inevitably ends up on the outside surface of the can first, thus washing off some of whatever dust etc is there. Need I go on?

The incidence of food poisoning and similar ailments has increased a lot over the last couple of decades and I can’t help wondering if drinking from ring-pull cans has contributed to this rise. This may not be such a new problem of course – before ring-pulls people would carry around one of those shiny pressed steel can openers so even ordinary cans could be opened on the hoof. Ring-pulls simply increased can sales as they are so much more convenient.

I once discussed this issue with a local councillor who was looking for an “issue” to campaign on at a higher political level. He could see the sense of what I was saying and said he’d ensure that cans he used in the future would be clean, especially those used by his two little girls. However, he wasn’t interested in taking up the matter to campaign on as he felt there wouldn’t be many votes in it – and, I suspect, he didn’t like the idea of taking on so many vested interests. Who can blame him? Well I do: I thought he had integrity but he turned out to be just another politician.

I don’t buy or use ring-pull cans any more. Do you?

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