Ice at Chicago restaurants contaminated

Dec. 2, 2007 at 12:18 PM
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CHICAGO, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Ice cubes from several Chicago-area fast-food and fine-dining establishments tested positive for high levels of fecal coliform.

Samples from nearly 50 restaurants and hotel bars found nearly 20 percent had high levels of fecal contamination, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Sunday.

Water samples taken from a restroom toilet showed less bacterial contamination than the ice from 21 of the restaurants and bars sampled.

Fecal coliform does not pose a significant health risk at lower levels, though the Sun-Times cites several experts saying bacterial contamination may lead to illness in the elderly and younger children.

Most of the positive test samples came from ice-bins used by waitstaff or otherwise exposed sources.

"It means that obviously someone's not washing their hands properly, and there's fecal matter," Frances Guichard with the Chicago Health Department said in the Sun-Times.

Representatives from the sampled restaurants told the newspaper they regularly passed their health inspections and noted that additional sanitary measures were in place as a result of the tests.

Ice is not tested by health officials and the test procedures did not conform to the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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