China food safety

More bacteria found in Beijing fast-food ice cubes than toilet water

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 11:05am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2013, 6:07pm

Sometimes you're better off drinking from a fast-food chain's toilet than its carbonated drinks.

Ice cubes served in soft drinks can be dirtier than toilet water, an investigation by China's national television revealed on Saturday.

The report prompted the nation's largest fast-food chain KFC to apologise for serving ice cubes at a Beijing branch with a bacterial count 13 times higher than toilet water and 18 times higher than the national standard.

The company said in its apology that following the report, it had cleaned and disinfected its ice cube maker at the Chongwenmen branch.

Ice cubes at a local branch of Kongfu, a Chinese fast-food chain, was also found to have a bacterial count six times higher than toilet water. Ice cubes at a local McDonald's branch tested cleaner than toilet water, but still did not meet national hygiene standards.

The two fast-food chains have also apologised as the topic became the most widely discussed issue on Chinese microblogs at the weekend, with more than 100,000 people wading into the debate.

The Beijing Times found customers of the three branches in Chongwenmen to be largely indifferent to the revelations.

One internet user asked: "What about other chains?" 

Yum Brands, owner of KFC and other restaurant chains, said it would release water tests from its other chains in China, including Little Sheep hotpot, East Dawning and Pizza Hut.

Yum is still recovering from earlier food scares and scandals, including media reports in December than it used illegal drugs to quicken poultry growth.

"KFC sales and profits in China were significantly impacted by intense media surrounding avian flu, as well as the residual effect of the December poultry supply incident," chief executive David C Novak said in a statement this month. 

Contaminated ice cubes are not a solely Chinese phenomenon. A test of restaurant chains in Britain in May revealed that six out of 10 restaurants offered cleaner water in their toilets than in their drinks.