According to multiple news sites, beards can contain more faeces than a toilet. Here are a few of the headlines:
“Some beards contain more poo than a toilet shocking study reveals” – the Mirror
“Shock new research reveals some beards contain more poo than a toilet” – news.com.au
“Some beards are so full of poo they are as dirty as toilets” – metro.co.uk
Guardian journalist Nick Evershed was curious about this super-sketchy sounding “discovery”, and decided to look a little further into the reported investigation and the actual results.
“As far as I can tell there was no proper study, no team of microbiologists and no poo in beards. The origin of the story appears to be this segment from a TV news network in New Mexico, which involved a reporter swabbing a “handful” of men’s beards and then sending the swabs to a microbiologist in a lab to culture any microbes present.
“The reporter then interviewed the microbiologist, John Golobic, who identified a few of the bacteria present as ‘enterics’, that is they are bacteria that normally live in the intestines.”
“And that’s all. Somehow, from this story other media organisations have managed to get faeces in beards.
“While it is true that human faeces are partially composed of gut bacteria, it’s not accurate to describe those bacteria on their own as faeces.”
Evershed goes on to point out that this is not a study published in a reputable scientific journal, and even if it was, there wouldn’t necessarily be any cause for concern.
“So in summary: there is more crap in these stories about poo in beards than there is in beards. So chaps, you can all relax.”