It has been speculated that both paper currency and metal coins might act as fomites: inanimate objects that may be contaminated with infectious organisms and serve in their transmission. If this is so, then people who contact food would be required to wash their hands between handling money and touching food or food contact surfaces. In 1971, FDA asked the Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) if paper currency could transmit disease organisms. BEP's reply stated that
…specifications for currency paper require that it contain fungicidal agents…hav[ing] germicidal[al] characteristics …[which] retain their effectiveness throughout the life of the currency in circulation. Additionally,
the inks used… on currency also contain ingredients which inhibit the growth of bacteria. A 1973 survey of 217 bills of various denominations found low number of organisms (1.46-167.26 per square centimeter), thus supporting BEP's position. The same survey tested 161 metal coins again finding low levels of organisms (19.50-413.29 per square centimeters). This information indicates that money does not support the growth or transfer of bacteria; i.e., it is not a "fomite".