This afternoon I stopped at a local Royal Farms (a gas station/convenience store for those not familiar with them) to get a soda. I like fountain soda because I like the extra carbonation it has. Yes, I like the bubbles.

So I grab a cup, get some ice from the dispenser and look into the cup (I do this unconsciously whenever I get fountain soda). There, among the ice, are black specks. So I figure the cup was dirty. I toss it, grab a new one, check it to make sure it’s fine and put ice in it. Uh. The black specks in the ice? Still there.

As it happens, the manager is right next to me so I turn to him, hold out the cup and say “there’s something in your ice”. He, I’m not kidding, grabs my cup, looks and bursts out laughing. “So there is.”

Color me a little uptight, but I’m expecting more of a concerned response from the manager. He dumps my ice out and disappears into the back with my cup. In the meantime an employee slides up next to me, gives me a shake of her head and says, “I wouldn’t..uh..I just wouldn’t.”

“So I should skip the ice?”

Emphatic nod.

How reassuring. The manager came back, he’d gotten me ice from the back room. I dumped it out and went with just the soda.

I called Josh to tell him the story and he reminded me of this article, released a year ago. Maybe I’ll be skipping the ice permanently from now on.

Jasmine Roberts never expected her award-winning middle school science project to get so much attention. But the project produced some disturbing results: 70 percent of the time, ice from fast food restaurants was dirtier than toilet water.

The 12-year-old collected ice samples from five restaurants in South Florida — from both self-serve machines inside the restaurant and from drive-thru windows. She then collected toilet water samples from the same restaurants and tested all of them for bacteria at the University of South Florida.
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In several cases, the ice tested positive for E. coli bacteria, which comes from human waste and has been linked to several illness outbreaks across the country.

“These [bacteria] don’t belong there,” said Dr. David Katz, medical contributor to “Good Morning America.” “It’s not cause for panic, although it is alarming because what she found is nothing new. You’re not more likely to get sick now. But she’s done us a favor by sounding the alarm.”

Both Roberts and Katz said that the ice is likely dirtier because machines aren’t cleaned and people use unwashed hands to scoop ice. Toilet water is also surprisingly bacteria-free, because it comes from sanitized city water supplies.

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