Would You Like Fries with That?

 Disclaimer: Due to the considerable "yuk" factor of this article, reader discretion is advised.

Your junk food joint could be junkier than you've ever thought: Aside from record amounts of trans fats and sugar in your burger, fries, and soda, even the ice in your drinks may be a health hazard.

This is the finding of a 12-year-old student's science project, which has by now received international media attention.

Jasmine Roberts from Benito Middle School in New Tampa, FL, randomly selected five fast food restaurants near the University of South Florida, where she collected ice samples from soda fountains and at drive-thru windows, as well as toilet water from the restrooms of the same restaurants.

Roberts tested the samples in a lab at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center where she volunteers, mentored by a USF professor.

In 70% of the cases, the toilet water was cleaner than the ice.

It is quite normal to find certain amounts of bacteria in water, Galina Tuninskaya, vice president of Applied Consumer Services, a private lab that tests drinking water, told MSNBC. "[T]he standard for drinking water is usually 100 colony-forming units of bacteria per milliliter. The highest amount Jasmine found was 54 units in ice from a self-serve machine."

However, what's really disturbing is that in three of the five fast food places, the ice tested positive for fecal coliform or E. coli, bacteria that come from human ***.

According to Tuninskaya, "No levels of fecal coliform or E. coli are acceptable. If you find that, you've got a problem."

What does that story teach us?

Possibly that the "employees must wash hands" signs in restaurant bathrooms don't work as well as intended.

And that, instead of ordering a soda at your favorite fast food place, you'd be better off taking a swig straight from the toilet bowl.

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Posted 02-28-2006 9:26 PM by Doug Casey