So you thought a mineral water on the rocks was the one healthy option left on the bar menu!…well think again. Tests have found that 44% of ice served in pubs and restaurants in Sussex and Surrey is contaminated with harmful bacteria.
The tests were carried out in July and August by several local authorities including Brighton & Hove City Council as part of a Surrey and Sussex-wide survey. Environmental health teams collected samples from ice machines, buckets and trays. Almost 150 samples were analysed from cafes, hotels, bars and clubs across the region.
A gut bacteria called Coliforms or Enterococci was detected in 44% of samples from both ice buckets and ice machines, with 11% of the samples containing very high bacteria levels. There should be no bacteria of this type found in ice intended for human consumption.
The samples were also tested for general hygiene standards by analysis for a wider range of bacteria. The levels were unsatisfactory in almost 40% of the premises sampled. Ice buckets were more likely to be contaminated than ice machine ice as more people are likely to have access to the ice bucket.
The most likely cause of contamination is dirty human hands touching the ice. Bacteria may contaminate the ice when the water supply is contaminated and/or dust or dirty air comes into contact with the ice in various ways.
Brighton & Hove City Council has already taken action to improve health and safety in premises where results gave cause for concern.
Environmental health staff are available to answer questions from pubs and restaurants on 01273 292161. For further details and practical advice see the food safety page of the city council's website, www.brighton-hove.gov.uk.
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