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Study Finds Restaurant Ice Dirtier Than Toilet Water

Study Finds Restaurant Ice Dirtier Than Toilet Water

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A study of Britain's popular restaurants found that ice actually had more bacteria than toilet water

Please excuse us as we go toss our iced coffee; a new investigation from The Daily Mail has found that ice from McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, and more fast-food chains, tested in the U.K., was all more bacteria-ridden than toilet water.

The Mail reports that scientific tests found that all of the samples contained more bacteria than toilet water at the same place, but none of them presented an "immediate health danger."

Samples from McDonald's, KFC, and Nando's were suspected to be dirtied by things like a dirty ice machine, while Burger King responded to its results by saying it was probably an employee who didn't wash his or her hands.

Meanwhile, Starbucks reportedly had a "satisfactory" level of bacteria, scientists say, despite the amount being higher than bathroom water levels.

Of course, this isn't the first time people have discovered the scary bacteria in ice; Grub Street has rounded up every instance of ice-bacteria research, enough to make you swear off iced drinks forever.

The Surprising List Of Things That Are Dirtier Than Your Toilet Seat

The toilet seat has gotten a bad rap as being the number-one source of bacteria. But this common belief is untrue, according to studies. Dr. Chuck Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, told BBC News that the average toilet seat only has about 50 bacteria per square inch.

"It's one of the cleanest things you'll run across in terms of micro-organisms," he said to the news organization. "It's our gold standard - there are not many things cleaner than a toilet seat when it comes to germs."

In comparison, the average cutting board has about 200 times more fecal bacteria.

YouTube channel Facts Verse explores the top items dirtier than your toilet seat. The most surprising? Clean laundry.

According to the video, bacteria remains in your washer and dryer, which is only made worse by the fecal matter on your underwear. More than 100 million E. coli bacteria are released in the water and onto your clothes. Laundry detergent alone isn’t enough to kill germs and Facts Verse recommends using bleach.

Another scary source of bacteria is your toothbrush. Germs from the toilet water shoot up into the air and onto your exposed bristles. Putting your brushes away or using toothbrush covers can help minimize exposure.

It’s supposed to get you squeaky clean, but a bath tub can carry up to 19,500 bacteria per square inch. That warm water might be relaxing but it also fosters germs which thrive in warm, moist areas. On top of that, the dirty bath water doesn’t necessarily go down the train as can linger in the tub and on the shower curtain.

Fast Food Chains Will Play On Your Senses

Many major restaurants take advantage of a customer’s senses with sneaky strategies like “aroma marketing,” which boosts tempting smells of food, and specialized decor, which makes the customer subconsciously think of food with similar colors or physical qualities.

If The Medium Meal Looks Large — It Probably Is!

A Duke University study noted that by raising the volume of all meal sizes, fast food companies could charge more and psychologically persuade customers to buy larger meal options. Business Insider reports that, from the 1970s to today, the average order of fries has increased from two to three ounces, while the average cheeseburger grew from 5.9 to 7.3 ounces.

International Chains Could Be Contributing Massively To Global Warming

The Environmental Investigation Agency says U.S.-based chains McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway, and Dunkin Donuts, as well as Indian and British fast food chains are on track to add nearly 1 million tons of carbon emissions by the year 2020. The EIA is calling for an agreement that stops these emissions, saying it could prevent 100 billion tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent from entering the air by 2050.

Burgers Could Mix Meat From Multiple Cows

In the 2001 book, “Fast Food Nation,” by Eric Schlosser, the journalist wrote that the average fast-food burger could contain meat from 12 to 100 cows. In 2014, Daily Mail reported that McDonald’s said it used a mixture of beef from different cows in burgers served at some European restaurants.

The Average Burger Could Also Contain. Poop?

In a recent Consumer Reports study of conventionally raised beef — often processed and distributed nationally by very few major U.S. companies — all 458 pounds of the tested beef contained evidence of "fecal matter contamination.” The study also found that sustainably-fed beef contained less harmful bacteria than conventionally-raised beef.

Those Grill Marks Could Be An Illusion

Speculators on sites including Reddit, Snopes, and Food Republic say many “grilled” meats served at major fast-food joints are pre-cooked with additives to create the appearance of grill marks, while also mimicking a grilled flavor. This concern has also been featured on the official website of the Dr. Oz Show.

The Average Fast-Food Eater Puts Less Importance On Healthy Menus

A survey reported by Forbes said that while participants ranked fast-food chains based on healthy options, they said that those customers may not necessarily visit the healthier places. Instead, the fast-food fans surveyed favored qualities like fresh taste of food, a menu’s variety of foods, large portion sizes, and the meal’s “portability.”

If You Think Sitting Down At A Chain Restaurant Is Safer, Think Again!

A study done at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said that while the average person gained 58 mg of cholesterol at a sit-down dinner, those who got take-out or fast food saw an average increase of just 10 mg. Researchers collected the data from over 18,000 adults recorded by National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Although this option increases cholesterol at a slower rate, those who eat fast food regularly could still struggle similarly from weight gain and high cholesterol.

The Ice In Your Soda Might Contain Toilet-Bowl Bacterias

A 2013 study collected ice samples from 10 major fast food restaurant soda machines in Britain — including those of international chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC — and reported that six out of 10 samples had more bacteria than the water found in the chains’ toilets. This followed a middle schooler’s 2006 science project where then-12-year old Jasmine Roberts collected toilet-bowl samples, as well as soda samples from self-serve machines and drive-thru windows at five south Florida restaurants. She found that 70% of tested ice was dirtier than its restaurant’s toilet water.



If you are like most Chronic Kidney Disease patients including those on Dialysis, then you enjoy a fast food burger or taco from time-to-time. While some patients never indulge, most patients will end a busy and exhausting day after Dialysis, work, school, errands, exercising or other activities with food delivery or at their favorite fast food stop to avoid spending any extra time on their feet cooking in a hot kitchen.

After their meal, however, many patients feel guilty and concerned that they have chosen a dish that is outside of their dietary restrictions which will surely hinder their lab results. In other cases, patients feel the side effects of a high sodium, potassium or phosphorus meal immediately with swelling, upset stomach, and difficulty breathing. Both of these scenarios can be avoided by choosing the right fast food meal options as outlined by the Large Dialysis Organization, DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc.

1. Hamburgers: Hamburger on a bun with lettuce, onion, mayonnaise, mustard or a packet of ketchup with no cheese or special sauce is a safe order for most patients. A grilled or broiled chicken sandwich with mustard or mayonnaise, lettuce, onion, and no cheese or breading is also a good option for Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients. Consider having onion rings instead of French fries. Limit the ketchup and the portion size.

2. Chicken or fish options: Go for grilled or roasted chicken or fish which does not have high-sodium breading.

3. Mexican fast foods: A good option for Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients is a burrito (chicken or beef) with rice, sour cream, a little salsa or hot sauce. Leave off the beans and cheese. Other options include: Fajitas (Beef, chicken, pork or shrimp), tacos with flour tortilla (beef, chicken or fish), taquitos (chicken or beef) with sour cream instead of guacamole. Always choose rice over beans and limit salsa or hot sauce to one (1) tablespoon or (1) packet.

4. Sub sandwiches: Stick to the 6-inch sub on a white roll with turkey, chicken, roast beef, ham or egg salad. Lettuce, onion, cucumber, thin slice of tomato, bell pepper, vinegar, oil, pepper, mayonnaise, and a small amount of mustard are all good topping choices in moderation. Steer clear of cheese, sauces, olives and pickles to keep phosphorus and sodium down.

5. Chinese take-out: "Order stir-fry shrimp, chicken, pork or beef with lower potassium veggies such as bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, and onions," said DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. Go with steamed white rice instead of fried rice. Egg rolls or fried wontons or small salad with vinegar-based dressing are best for appetizers. Request no MSG and skip the salty soups to save on fluid and sodium.

6. Sides: The best sides for Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients include: Coleslaw, pasta salad, white roll, green beans, and half ear corn on the cob. Try to avoid potatoes and biscuits to keep potassium and phosphorus lower.

7. Drinks: A good rule of thumb for the drinks is to order the smallest beverage — no refills, no cola. Acceptable drinks include: apple juice, cranberry juice, grape juice, pineapple juice, peach nectar juice, raspberry juice, strawberry juice, 7-Up, Sprite, ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, root beer, club soda, cream soda, grape soda, orange soda, strawberry soda, Kool-Aid, Capri-Sun, punch, homemade lemonade or limeade, tea, herbal tea, coffee, water, sparkling water or fruit-flavored water.

Ice in Your Bin – Guaranteed

We designed our maintenance program to keep ice machines running efficiently for years.

Ice Machines are Often Neglected

A scathing report from the U.K. concluded that 6 in 10 fast food restaurants had ice that was dirtier than toilet water. This finding certainly had the “ick factor” and had consumers on both sides on the pond questioning the safety and sanitation of the ice in their beverages. (Note: As a consumer, you can contact your state’s Health Department to learn about health inspection violations at foodservice establishments in your area.)

A convenience store association conducted a study with it’s members around ice machines and cleanliness. A significant percentage of respondents said they didn’t clean their ice machines because they thought they were “self-cleaning”. Others neglected to replace water filters regularly.

Proper Cleaning is Key

Ignoring the potential health consequences of a dirty ice machine doesn’t make the problem go away! Proactive inspections and cleaning your ice bin will keep your ice machine free from mold and slime which can lead to illness.

We’ve created a handy ice machine cleaning schedule you or your staff can follow that will help reduce accidental contamination.

Commercial ice machines need to be professionally deep-cleaned at least twice per year. (More often if the ice machine is in a yeasty environment, like a pizza parlor or bakery.)

Another benefit of professional deep cleanings is that it frees dust and dirt that has accumulated around vital ice machine components. When components, like condensers, are covered in dirt and dust, they lose their effectiveness. The less effective components operate, the less ice your machine will produce.

Avoid the Dangers of a Dirty Ice Machine

Ice safety is imperative. If a customer or staff member becomes ill due to ice borne contaminants, your business can suffer. For restaurants, a bad Yelp review can tarnish even the most popular establishments. A poor inspection from the health department can lead to costly fines or temporary closure of your business.

Most importantly, your reputation depends on your customers and staff leaving happy and healthy. Reducing risk of illness due to a dirty ice machine is not difficult, but it does take consistent attention and effort.

Outsourcing equipment cleanings to professionals will ensure it’s sanitation. You’re an expert at running your business, not an ice machine expert.

Deep cleaning a commercial ice machine requires a lot more than wiping down surfaces and emptying the bin. Ice machines are complicated with lots of moving parts that need attention during a cleaning.

It's Now Safe to Eat Food That's Been Dropped on the Floor

If you've been using the five-second rule—you know, the age-old principle that says food that's been dropped on the floor is still safe to eat if picked up within five seconds or less—your entire life (as we have), prepare to question everything you've ever known about food and germs. Why? Because a new study has just discovered that the five-second rule should really be the 30-minute rule for certain foods.

You read that right: Some foods can be dropped and left on the floor for up to a half an hour and still be safe to eat. According to the study out of Aston University in Birmingham, England, "rigid foods"—such as biscuits, cookies, sandwiches, dry toast, and chocolate—can be on the floor for up to 30 minutes with little increased risk of attracting germs. "Dry foods, hard foods are really quite low-risk," the lead researcher, professor Anthony Hilton, told the Daily Mail. "Not only do they not pick up much bacteria on impact with the floor, but they do not get any additional contamination over time."

The study did find, though, that certain foods were likely to pick up more bacteria the longer they remained on the floor. That list includes things like cooked pasta, chips, donuts, sweets, and buttered toast. "It is less safe to leave damper, stickier foods, which pick up more after falling and more over time," Hilton said. "The five-second rule probably does still apply to them."

It also matters what type of flooring the food falls onto: Foods dropped on laminate or tile became more contaminated than those dropped on carpet. But across all types of flooring, the food dropped picked up fewer than .0004 percent of the average 10 million bacteria found on a family floor.

So here comes the good news, germophobes: It is generally safe to eat all food that has been dropped on a residential floor that is mopped or vacuumed once a week, no matter the timing. "The chances of anyone getting ill from dropping food on the floor at home are infinitesimally small," Hilton said. "Obviously, food covered with invisible dirt shouldn't be eaten, but as long as it's not obviously contaminated, the science shows that food is unlikely to have picked up harmful bacteria from a few seconds spent on an indoor floor."

We can't decide which bacteria-related revelation is better: Being able to safely eat food off the floor or never having to make our bed again, we love science.

Kitchen Confidential: 10 Dirty Secrets Restaurants Don't Want You to Know

Not to sound like an old hag, but it's crucial to stay safe while dining out. A study published in WebMD by the researchers from the consumer watchdog group, Center for Science in the Public Interest, have said that people were twice as likely to get food poisoning while dining out as compared to eating in. It can happen at any restaurant, at any time and the reasons can fill up pages. Sometimes, the restaurants see a profit margin by reusing ingredients under a safe limit. Sometimes, the staff isn't as careful - or as bothered - as you would like them to be.

In order to steer clear of getting sick, you need some solid tips under your belt. And the best people to give you this ammo? The people who work at these restaurants of course! They're on the inside, they know about the decisions of the management, they see what happens inside the kitchens and, at large, inside their restaurants. Most importantly, they know the secrets that are unknown to the average customer. Of course, these are wide-scale generalizations and not specific to any restaurant as such. These things may or may not happen at every restaurant, but industry workers swear it's quite rampant.

Source: Hat tip to Reddit threads - and to the fantastic chefs and servers for their inputs.

There's more to your salad than meets the eye.

These days, many fast-food chains offer salads. But that doesn't mean you could name much of what goes into one. Many chains' salads—like McDonald's Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad—contain the chemical propylene glycol. It's considered safe for consumption—but it's also be found in antifreeze and sexual lubricants. In our eyes, that's the opposite of appetizing and clearly isn't great for you.

It doesn't go bad…

In 2010, New York photographer Sally Davies put a McDonald's hamburger and fries in a jar. Five months later, the food still looked edible while KFC fries bought and stored on the same day were white and furry with mold. Marion Nestle, chair of NYU's food studies program, told Salon that McDonald's would have to use "a lot of sodium propionate to prevent bacterial or mold growth." Davies continues to take photos of the same meal and post them on her website as of July 2015, it has not noticeably disintegrated.

Watch the video: Fast food ice dirtier than toilet water, study finds (June 2022).


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