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Stomach upsets linked to contaminated ice in drinks6th of October 2011
Dirty hands and utensils are contaminating the ice in our soft drinks and cocktails, a study reveals.
Tests carried out at 88 UK bars, cafes and restaurants revealed that nearly a third of ice, scoops and ice machines showed evidence of poor hygiene.
And the findings have been implicated in a 50 per cent upsurge in the number of people experiencing tummy upsets since the 1990s.
The study was conducted by the UK's Health Protection Agency at businesses across Yorkshire and the Humber region and in the East Midlands.
According to the HPA: "Thirty per cent of the ice samples were found to have unsatisfactory levels of coliform bacteria. Of these, three samples were also found to have unsatisfactory levels of Enterococci and one sample had an unsatisfactory level of E.coli.
"Both Enterococci and E.coli can be found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals and may be an indication of faecal contamination."
The major cause of the contamination problem was found to be a failure by staff to clean ice machines and scoops before filling customers' glasses.
Some 17 million cases of stomach upsets occur in the UK each year. These are caused by a variety of sources and are said to lead to around 11 million lost working days.