Toilet water safer than ice-cubes?

Ice Safety Project

You might want to file this one under “Things I wish I didn’t know.”

Jasmine Roberts is a 12-year-old student at Benito Middle School in Tampa, Florida, where she recently took the top honor at her school’s science fair. Her project: ice safety.

Jasmine dropped by five fast food restaurants where she collected samples of ice used in soft drinks. In each restaurant, she also collected samples of toilet water.

If you think you already know where this is going, you’re right.

When Jasmine tested the samples at a local cancer lab where she does volunteer work, she found that the ice samples were contaminated with more bacteria than the toilet water in four of the five sample sets.

Wait. It gets worse.

Three of the five ice samples contained fecal coliform (E. coli).

In a Tampa Tribune article about Jasmine’s project, a lab technician who tests drinking water noted that the amount of bacteria in Jasmine’s ice samples was well below the acceptable maximum level for drinking water. HOWEVER, the lab tech added that the acceptable level of fecal coliform is zero. “If you find that,” she said, “You’ve got a problem.”

So! How about a nice hot cocoa with that burger?

“Girl’s Science Project May Make You Rethink that Drink Order” Michele Sager, The Tampa Tribune, 2/15/06,