Girl's Science Project May Make You Rethink Your Drink Order! Funky Ice!
Yeah, uhmmm, can I get some fries with that funk? :help: :disappoin
Girl's Science Project May Make You Rethink That Drink Order
By MICHELE SAGER , The Tampa Tribune
Tampa Bay Online
TAMPA - Those ice-cold drinks from favorite fast food restaurants may not seem as refreshing after a seventh-grader's science project reveals what may lurk inside the cup.
Benito Middle School student Jasmine Roberts examined the amount of bacteria in ice served at fast food restaurants.
Her project won the science fair at the New Tampa school, and she hopes to win a top prize at the Hillsborough County Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which starts Tuesday.
The 12-year-old compared the ice used in the drinks with the water from toilet bowls in the same restaurants. Jasmine said she found the results startling.
"I thought there might be a little bacteria in the ice, but I never expected it to be this much," she said. "And I never thought the toilet water would be cleaner."
Her discovery: Seventy percent of the time, the ice had more bacteria than the toilet water.
Geoff Luebkemann, director of the division for hotels and restaurants at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, said people shouldn't swear off fast food ice just yet. His state agency regulates Florida businesses, including coordinating health inspections.
"Ice machines are part of the health inspections," Luebkemann said. "There are a lot of factors that have to be considered, like how accurately did she gather and test her specimens. Plus, comparing the ice to toilet water can be misleading because there are acceptable levels of bacteria for water."
Jasmine said she has always been interested in water quality and its link to health issues. Last year, she compared hotel ice to toilet water. She decided to branch out to restaurants this year.
She is a previous county winner, and her brother won a top prize last year for his project.
For this project, Jasmine visited five fast food restaurants near the University of South Florida. She collected ice samples from self-service dispensers inside the restaurants, as well as ice from drinks served through drive-through windows. She also collected samples of toilet water from those restaurants.
She placed the samples into sterile containers and tested them at a lab at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, where she volunteers with a USF professor.
Jasmine found that in four of the five restaurants, the ice that came from the self-serve machines had more bacteria than the toilet water. Three of the five cups of ice from the drive-through windows had more bacteria than the toilet water.
Of the bacteria found in the ice, three out of the five restaurants tested positive for fecal coliform or E. coli, organisms that come from the feces of warm-blooded animals.
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