In a study by the Chicago Sun-Times, that tested the ice cubes from 49 different fast-food and casual-dining restaurants and hotel bars, found there were high levels of bacteria in more than one in five of samples. And sadly "By comparison, a water sample taken from a toilet in a men's room at the Sun-Times tested cleaner than the ice obtained at 21 of the restaurants and bars."
EPA drinking water standards say that there must be less than one colony of coliform bacteria per milliliter. But, there are no standards on ice.
-"Ice from 11 restaurants or bars had high levels of 'total coliform bacteria' -- more than 200 bacteria colonies per milliliter tested." The addresses of there restaurants were given in the article, but I see it somewhat pointless to write. Click on the link at the end if you're so inclined to know. But the restaurants are an Applebee's, a Chipotle Mexican Grill, a Starbucks, an Asagio Express, an Outback Steakhouse, a Burger King, a Caribou Coffee, a rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewwery, and the bars at the Drake Hotel, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, and the Sheraton Chigago.
-Majority of the ice from self-serve machines had low or no bacteria levels.
-"Twenty-eight of the 49 samples showed no bacteria at all."
Now, you may be thinking that you should skip the ice next time you go out, but that may not really be necessary. Fecal coliforms may not be that dangerous. Penn State University's Brian Swinstock says "They might just be like a flu-symptom, a little bit of nausea, a slight fever." In other words, something that you may just associate with a common cold. However, if you have a weak immune system or are very young/old, you may want to hold the ice.
The Chicago Health Department's Frances Guichard says the bigger problem here is that people aren't washing their hands and that's how the bacteria/poo is getting on the ice. And that if there is enough of it, it will make someone sick.
The restaurants and bar that had traceable levels of bacteria in their ice said they took immediate precautions even thought they aren't sure they agree with the data. (CST)