Gross: New study finds fecal contamination of iced drinks at 3 big chains

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Woman holding soda cup
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Food safety has been in the news this week thanks to a suspected norovirus outbreak that sickened more than 100 people at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Loudoun County, Virginia.

Now there’s another report that’s likely to turn your stomach and maybe make you rethink your drink choice at fast-food restaurants.

Read more: This is why you probably shouldn’t wear shoes in your house

Study: Fecal bacteria in the ice at Burger King, KFC, and McDonald’s

A British investigation done in conjunction with the BBC sampled iced drinks at three popular fast food chains on the British Isles. Researchers were looking for evidence of coliform bacteria that would indicate the presence of fecal matter.

The investigators tested 10 samples at Burger King, KFC, and McDonald’s looking for traces of the microbes.

The results? KFC fared the worst. Seven samples tested positive for the presence of fecal bacteria. Burger King wasn’t far behind with six samples testing positive. McDonald’s, meanwhile, saw three samples test positive.

The problem reportedly stems from ice production. There are safety standards in place for unfrozen drinking water, but none specifically for the production of ice.

Some would like to see that change.

“[We] welcome the introduction of an agreed standard and would be happy to work with relevant industry bodies,” a McDonald’s spokesperson told Business Insider.

Fecal bacteria can cause diarrhea if it consumed, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Perhaps the bigger danger here is that the presence of fecal bacteria signifies that other pathogens like norovirus, hepatitis A or Salmonella could be present, a medical expert told Business Insider.

So what can you do to avoid this danger?

First, consider avoiding the ice. While nobody likes a lukewarm soft drink, it might be worth skipping the ice for sanitation’s sake.

Second, consider a bottled drink. You’re going to be paying for a drink anyway. Why not make it a bottled water or juice?

Read more: A “healthy” food label could soon mean the product is actually healthy

7 big changes coming to McDonald’s in 2017

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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