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View Full Version : Funny taste in soda, workers don't care.


Barracuda
01-20-2014, 06:52 AM
I spotted this today at a Jack in the Box. Drove up and ordered a few food items, as well as a diet Dr. Pepper (my favorite.) Got the drink and took a sip immediately as I always do to check for problems and verify the taste. Got a mouthful of something that tasted kind of like Dr. Pepper with a NASTY aftertaste (You ever drunk water in a plastic bottle that's been in the sun too long, or tasted car exhaust? Kind of like that but stronger,) and immediately handed it back and explained something must be wrong with their machine. They handed me another one and I took a sip. SAME ISSUE.

I again explained that there was something wrong with the soda and asked them to taste it. They refused. I asked another worker. They refused as well. They asked what they wanted me to do. I replied that I wanted them to check the soda. They refused, again, and asked if I wanted something else instead. Finally I just took a Diet Coke and drove off, kind of pissed that they wouldn't listen (and wouldn't even check the damn soda!)

Should I have gotten more insistent? I feel like they were putting people's safety at risk, after all, if there WAS something wrong with the soda, it could have been more than a taste issue. I was also really pissed at being basically ignored and treated like I was the problem. Was I an SC?

Talasar
01-20-2014, 08:09 AM
If you where asking them to taste your soda yeah that could be a bit weird but they should have at least checked it from the fountain. Or checked their bibs if they have a fountain system that uses soda bibs.

sms001
01-20-2014, 10:17 AM
Yeah, I'd think that the assumption would be that they'd pull a little straight from the dispenser to do the tasting.

No, Barra, I don't think you were sucky. (Even leaving out the grading curve of Suck that includes people who throw their soda at drive through employees. :))

I certainly try to bring safety concerns to the attention of employees whenever possible. Especially in this instance, it's possible that no one working the establishment drinks D-Dr.P. and they could hand out something bad for hours.

The only thing I can think of off hand is that they had new lines run, or that the bag-in-a-box container was defective.

Can't think of any reason why they would want to ignore a simple request to check though.

EricKei
01-20-2014, 01:30 PM
It's possible that the drink is less than popular (Diet DP would likely fall under that category, despite the fact that, for a diet drink, it ain't half bad at all ;) ) -- I suppose it's possible that the BiB (plastic bag-in-box full of drink "syrup") has been sitting around too long...

otakuneko
01-20-2014, 01:45 PM
Possibly too much soda, not enough syrup? Some fast food places do that. Actually a lot probably do, just some much more noticeable than others. Ever had problems with that particular Jack before?

EvilEmpryss
01-20-2014, 02:20 PM
I would doubt that it is a bad batch of syrup: dates are checked regularly and more than one person would be complaining about the flavor. From the description I'd say it's the syrup/carbonation mix being off.

They could be using one of those idiotic systems that pour all the soda flavors throught he same nozzle. I like Diet Coke, and I can tell when the place has individual dispensers for their sodas versus one big machine that dispenses them all through the same outlet: my DC will taste like orange soda or Dr Pepper or some other strongly-flavored drink. The flavor only gets stronger and more mixed up as the day goes on, when droplets of every other soda dispensed get mixed together. It's especially bad when the place is busy and the soda is still dripping from the previous order.

There's not a darned thing you can do about either of these except not go there. At the drive-thru they don't have time to flush the nozzle with water between drinks to clear the nozzle and they won't fiddle with the carbonation mix. Heck, most workers haven't got a clue how to do that anyway or are forbidden by management from doing so.

retro
01-20-2014, 02:41 PM
Personally I'd be the wrong person to taste if your diet Dr Pepper tasted okay because I don't even like regular Dr Pepper. Could it be that maybe the seller didn't like it themselves so couldn't tell the difference between when it tastes good and when it tastes bad?

Zellie Crescent
01-20-2014, 03:38 PM
There was a guy in the flea market where I worked who watered down the soda, whenever I got food from him after the first time I got different sodas just to see if I was right. After the fourth time I never got food from him again, his food was too salty anyway.

Barracuda
01-20-2014, 05:31 PM
Normally this Jack has no problems with the soda. And it didn't just taste like it needed cleaning, it almost tasted like chemicals had gotten in it. I mean, it was bad. And I asked them to taste it from the dispenser, they refused.

Silent-Hunter
01-20-2014, 06:27 PM
The fact that they wouldn't taste it tells me something screwy is going on. I'd call the health department.

XCashier
01-20-2014, 11:39 PM
The fact that they wouldn't taste it tells me something screwy is going on. I'd call the health department.
I'd also contact corporate.

Silent-Hunter
01-21-2014, 05:25 AM
Good idea.

wolfie
01-22-2014, 06:07 AM
They could be using one of those idiotic systems that pour all the soda flavors throught he same nozzle.

Why would any place use such a system? It GUARANTEES cross-contamination, so if someone has problems (e.g. allergic to a specific ingredient) with a particular soda, they'll have problems with EVERY soda sold at that place. Can you say "liability issues"?

Seshat
01-22-2014, 06:29 AM
I'd refuse to taste it if I was a worker and it was a potential contamination issue: but I'd also block off that dispenser until a manager could verify/identify the problem. Thus resolving the health concern!

I'm fragile, and what health I do have is important to me. So no, I won't volunteer to ingest a potential nasty. I'd be happy to test it against a test strip, or flush the lines with water to clean things out, or dissassemble and re-clean the unit. But I won't taste it. ;)

Hm. If I were management, I'd go with re-cleaning the unit and trying a fresh bag of mix. The dubious bag of mix would either be discarded, or checked somehow. I presume there's ways of checking them for ok-ness!

EvilEmpryss
01-22-2014, 01:11 PM
Why would any place use such a system? It GUARANTEES cross-contamination, so if someone has problems (e.g. allergic to a specific ingredient) with a particular soda, they'll have problems with EVERY soda sold at that place. Can you say "liability issues"?
Because it's cheap and can be automated. A conveyer belt carries a cup under the nozzle and the computer checks what the order is for, dispenses the appropriate soda, moves the cup, and preps the next in the order. The worker can then be busy prepping the remainder of the meal while the machine takes care of the drinks. It also takes up less space than your standard six-nozzle set up and allows the store to carry more flavors of soda since the space to run extra syrup tubes to the machine is negligible.

icmedia
01-22-2014, 05:42 PM
Usually a high-traffic place will clean the dispenser nozzles nightly, but some restaurants can get by with a few times a week. It does break down the seals in the nozzles, so I understand trying to save them. However...

I once managed a restaurant where, upon starting, I asked the longest-tenured employee how often they cleaned the soda nozzles. I was met with a blank stare, then, "Clean them? How?"

Yes, this employee had never seen the nozzles cleaned in the entire 5 years she had worked there. I took them off, and they were SLIMY with build-up and mold. I was honestly surprised that nobody had ever complained about the taste, or gotten sick.

otakuneko
01-22-2014, 06:51 PM
Because it's cheap and can be automated. A conveyer belt carries a cup under the nozzle and the computer checks what the order is for, dispenses the appropriate soda, moves the cup, and preps the next in the order. The worker can then be busy prepping the remainder of the meal while the machine takes care of the drinks. It also takes up less space than your standard six-nozzle set up and allows the store to carry more flavors of soda since the space to run extra syrup tubes to the machine is negligible.

Some places here with self-serve drinks have these extremely annoying machines with a touch-screen interface, dispensing umpteen varieties of soda through a single dispenser. They result in long lines because 1) only one person can use it at a time and 2) it takes longer to use. I hate them.

mhkohne
01-22-2014, 08:21 PM
Usually a high-traffic place will clean the dispenser nozzles nightly, but some restaurants can get by with a few times a week. It does break down the seals in the nozzles, so I understand trying to save them. However...

I once managed a restaurant where, upon starting, I asked the longest-tenured employee how often they cleaned the soda nozzles. I was met with a blank stare, then, "Clean them? How?"

Yes, this employee had never seen the nozzles cleaned in the entire 5 years she had worked there. I took them off, and they were SLIMY with build-up and mold. I was honestly surprised that nobody had ever complained about the taste, or gotten sick.

I suspect that both are due to two factors:
1) not much of the buildup was in the actual drink path - any surface that's in the soda path gets pretty flushed out by the soda itself. Anything left on those surfaces (insides of tubing, etc) is crusty and not going in the drink.
2) soda's pretty acidic (CO2 in water is called carbonic acid). Sufficiently acidic stuff is deadly to microorganisms, so it may just be that the little bit ofmstuff that did end up in the drinks was killed immediately.

In other words, dumb luck prevented them from killing someone via their lack of cleaning. Did the relevant health inspectors not check that or what?

EvilEmpryss
01-22-2014, 11:57 PM
Usually a high-traffic place will clean the dispenser nozzles nightly, but some restaurants can get by with a few times a week. It does break down the seals in the nozzles, so I understand trying to save them. However....
My fisrt job the soda and coffee machines had to be cleaned at the start of every SHIFT. It was a little mom-and-pop place that prided itself on good food and better service. Mr Metcalf would have had a kaniption (sp?) if he'd found slime in the soda nozzles. Somebody would have been fired.
Some places here with self-serve drinks have these extremely annoying machines with a touch-screen interface, dispensing umpteen varieties of soda through a single dispenser. They result in long lines because 1) only one person can use it at a time and 2) it takes longer to use. I hate them.
I boycott those places. The soda never tastes right and it's stupid to go from being able to serve two or more people at once to only one at a time while people futz with the machine to find the basic Diet Coke. Seriously, how many people actually use the freaky combos that can be made in those machines?

Okay, my 11 year old son likes to mix crazy stuff at the regular machines (Hi-C with Mt Dew, Coke, and Sprite), but he isn't paying the bill for the soda, so he gets what's available and is happy with it.

Jay 2K Winger
01-23-2014, 12:08 AM
Mr Metcalf would have had a kaniption (sp?) if he'd found slime in the soda nozzles. Somebody would have been fired.

"Conniption."

BrenDAnn
01-23-2014, 12:26 AM
The newly rebuilt red-haired girl burger place nearest me has one of those machines. I thought it was odd when I saw the photo in the paper accompanying the article about the new building. As for the OP's experience, contact with corporate and the health department is definitely in order. Perhaps the employees weren't trained to fix whatever problem there was, but management certainly should've been.

sms001
01-23-2014, 09:31 AM
Perhaps the employees weren't trained to fix whatever problem there was....

But they should have been trained to at least pretend to care. :)

Seriously, I agree. The things that can make soda taste funky are probably a health hazard; narc 'em out.

greensinestro
01-23-2014, 03:50 PM
Maybe they water it down there? I once ordered a cherry Fanta at BK where there was more red syrup than liquid. I probably could have poured it on my pancakes.

Silent-Hunter
01-23-2014, 04:59 PM
Some places here with self-serve drinks have these extremely annoying machines with a touch-screen interface, dispensing umpteen varieties of soda through a single dispenser. They result in long lines because 1) only one person can use it at a time and 2) it takes longer to use. I hate them.

I love those things! The soda never tastes funny to me, and I can get flavors I can't even find in stores, like lime Fanta. Five Guys Burgers has them.

DGoddessChardonnay
01-25-2014, 04:37 PM
Some places here with self-serve drinks have these extremely annoying machines with a touch-screen interface, dispensing umpteen varieties of soda through a single dispenser. They result in long lines because 1) only one person can use it at a time and 2) it takes longer to use. I hate them.


BK has these in their restaurants and I think they're a PITA just because of the fact only one person can use them at a time.

Also, I'm concerned about the cross contamination thing as well . . . 100 (or so) different flavors in a single machine? Seems as if they're asking for health issues down the road IMO.:(:confused:

Barracuda
01-25-2014, 11:46 PM
Ok, I got a call from corporate (filed a complaint via the website yesterday.) The district manager told me after I left, they called Coke and had the machine thoroughly checked. (I suspect others complained....) They found nothing wrong, so they're assuming it was just a bag of flavor syrup that went off. The DM was rather upset to find out I felt they hadn't taken me seriously at the window, though, and will be talking to them about their attitude. She also assures me that Coke came out and thoroughly checked the machine, and they don't use chemicals to clean it, so there is a very small chance it was actually contaminated and was most likely just old syrup or possibly something with the carbonated water feed (stale water.) She thanked me for my concern and seemed very eager to assure me that there was nothing unsafe. If they had just told me at the window that they heard my concern and would check into it, instead of acting like they were brushing me off and didn't give a crap, that could have been avoided.

Jay 2K Winger
01-26-2014, 06:05 PM
Ok, I got a call from corporate (snip)

Sounds like it all had a bit of a happy ending, then, more or less. Your concerns were listened to (eventually) and the machine was checked/cleaned.

EmiOfBrie
02-02-2014, 09:12 AM
If it was Diet, likely the aspartame went off due to sitting around in warm areas for too long.

And actually, that's why you NEVER cook with aspartame. When it's heated, the chemicals that make it up break down into... wait for it... formaldehyde. Granted, not enough to kill you, but it will make the soda taste funny, and probably make you mildly sick afterward. That happened to me with a bad bottle of Diet Dew once.

This issue does not exist with sucralose or stevia pop. :)

Barracuda
02-06-2014, 04:15 AM
THAT'S what that taste was! I knew it was familiar! I smelled it in junior high in science class when we were doing dissections!