How clean are those ice cubes again?

I’m used to refraining from ice cubes in my beverages while in third world countries. But after the Chicago Sun Times published an article on ice cube quality in the greater Chicago area, I might have to start declining in the great US of A as well. In a series of tests across 49 fast food and casual dining restaurants, The Sun found that over 43% of them had higher bacterial levels than the toilet water in the Sun Building. Twenty percent of the samples had bacterial levels that were considered “high.”

My favorite part of the article is where they actually list the restaurants where they found high percentages of bacteria in the ice cubes. It’s great to call out these businesses on their cleanliness and I’d like to continue that tradition here. Take heed, fair Chicagoans: Restaurants in Chicago with high levels of total coliform bacteria:

  • Applebee’s at 7519 S. Cicero
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill at 10 S. LaSalle
  • Starbucks at 444 N. Michigan
  • Asiago Express at 176 N. Wells
  • Outback Steakhouse at 216 E. Golf Rd. in Schaumburg
  • Burger King at 6950 S. Pulaski
  • Caribou Coffee at 3025 N. Clark
  • Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery at 1 W. Grand (I think I ate here last November!)
  • The Drake Hotel at 140 E. Walton
  • The Hyatt Regency Chicago at 151 E. Wacker
  • The Sheraton Chicago at 301 E. North Water

Before you go out and get your immunizations boosted, remember that fecal coliform aren’t necessarily bad for you. While they do hold the potential to cause illness, the body digests and even requires certain bacterium. But it is disturbing to find that almost half of the ice cubes out there at public restaurants are dirtier than toilet water. I’ll definitely think twice about getting ice next time I’m out to lunch with the guys.