Microbiologist John Golobic, of Quest Diagnostics, was called in to test a small selection of beards for germs as part of an experiment by a television news network in New Mexico. And the “disturbing results” of his investigation into beard hygiene are likely to have well-whiskered gents bristling with indignation.

“I’m usually not surprised and I was surprised by this,” said Golobic, who found that while some beards contained normal bacteria others were filthier than toilets. “There would be a degree of uncleanliness that would be somewhat disturbing.”

He told Action 7 News the dirty beards contained “the types of things you’d find” in faeces – although happily for anyone within snogging range it also is important to note that finding the same bacteria as are present in faeces does not actually mean the beards are full of poo.

However, Golobic did warn that if a city’s water plants contained the same bacteria found in some of the beards they would have to be shut down and disinfected. He recommends that men with beards keep their hands away from their faces and wash regularly.