The Cold Truth
Special Report: The Cold Truth
The FDA considers ice a food but the way itís often handled and served up is enough to give you the chills.
Jeff Glor tonight gets the "Cold Truth."
Itís almost summer and people are starting to cool off with cold drinks. But when you take a sip ever wonder how much bacteria could be chilling on your ice?
Ice is melting under scrutiny and in some cases whatís being scooped into your glass could also be served up as an experiment in a petri dish.
"Just about any bacteria will survive on ice, as well as viruses," Lisa Berger, of Food Safety Consulting.
Food safety expert Berger says that many people think thereís no such thing as contaminated cubes.
"Thereís a misconception that bacteria will not survive on ice or in the frozen state, but it absolutely will," Berger said.
She says ice passes through many hands before it makes it to your cup. Many restaurants donít take the same precautions with it as they do with food.
"Thereís stuff on the ice that can harm or kill people, absolutely," Berger said.
Scary stuff such as mold, dirt, E-coli, salmonella, listeria hepatitis and more.
So we decided what we could find. Armed with a cooler and an undercover camera, we hit some hot spots for cool drinks around the city.
We gathered samples at both counterís and self-serve ice machines from restaurants, coffee shops, and fast food chains.Then we turned them in for testing.
"Weíve tested a lot of ice over the years," Andrea Fontaine, of Food Research in Boston said.
"First we have to thaw it out," Fontaine said.
Then she goes in for a closer look, examining both total bacteria and small loose particles.
"Bacteria counts we can get within 48 hours," Fontaine said.
Three days later, weíre frozen in our tracks.
"All the samples had some level of bacteria in them," Fontaine said.
The maximum contamination limit is 400 colonies per milliliter. In some of our samples we found between 1,100-4,300.
There was mold, dirt, yeast, and some coliform bacteria.
"This coliform can represent anything for E-coli to Salmonella, to other fecal based bacteria," Fontaine said.
The likely sources are workers who donít wash their hands after using the restrooms.
Mold most likely came from machineís that werenít properly cleaned.
"The source of bacteria in this ice is from mishandling," Fontaine said.
Through the strainer there was dirt, rust, hair, and even a thread.
"And thatís just visibly present," Fontaine said.
To protect your self, ask when the last time the ice machines were cleaned. Make sure your ice isnít from a storage bin for bottles or food.
At home, wash your hands and ice trays before putting them into the freezer. Lastly, if your refrigerator does the work, be sure to clean the filters and surface area regularly.
Food Research Laboratories Inc.
Boston, MA 02118
Berger Food Safety Consulting
P.O Box 18446
Boston, MA 02118
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