I-Team Investigates: Filthy fast-food find, Part I

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(08/30/06) WOODBRIDGE ? The results of a News 12 New Jersey I-Team investigation may make some people think twice before eating at a fast-food restaurant.

I-Team investigators tested bacteria levels in the ice at 10 local fast-food establishments. They also took water from the toilets at those restaurants for bacterial testing. Overall, the news was pretty positive. Eight of the 10 restaurants had clean ice with no signs of bacterial contamination.

However, the same could not be said for a Taco Bell in Woodbridge and a Burger King in Elizabeth. Eleven separate colonies of coliform bacteria were discovered in the Taco Bell ice. At the Burger King, test results showed 53 colonies of coliform bacteria. Eleven of those were fecal coliform, the type found in human and animal feces. All of the toilet water samples came back totally clean, meaning the ice at the two locations in question had more bacteria.

Health officials say any amount of coliform bacteria in restaurant ice is totally unacceptable. According to experts, employees not washing their hands after going to the bathroom or taking out the garbage could lead to the contamination. A representative of the lab the I-Team used for the testing says bacteria in the ice could pose a serious health risk to anyone with a compromised immune system.

Representatives for Taco Bell promised to look into the matter at the Woodbridge restaurant. At the Burger King, the manager said the ice machine has been taken off line until it can be completely sanitized.

Related information: Directory of Local Health Departments in New Jersey I-Team Investigates


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