Whether someone is picking up an iced coffee in the morning with their breakfast sandwich to help them get through the work day, or a family is picking up a drive thru feast complete with giant icy colas on the way home from a hot day in the sun, for North Americans, nothing beats a frosty drink. Unfortunately, while many assume that the drink is perfectly safe and besides the sugar- reasonably healthy, many will be shocked to learn about the possible dangers floating in the syrupy liquid. Here are 10 Reasons You Should Stay Away From ICE with Fast Food Drinks.
10. Mold Moving In
One of the most fear invoking reasons to avoid ice from public ice machines is the strong mold growth potential that encompasses ice machines. In order to ensure that mold does not develop in the ice machines, specialty cleaning processes need to be completed. Although a typical ice machine only needs to be properly cleaned twice annually, in food environments- especially those with multitudes of staff and customers – this needs to be done on a much more frequent basis. When bacteria or debris from the kitchen enter the ice machine, the wet and cold environment provides a perfect breeding ground for mold to multiply. This can become especially dangerous when management and staff are unaware and the ice is used by customers until the problem is discovered. That means that the mold could be left for days, weeks or possibly months unchecked! Although minor amounts of mold in the body are typically handled by the immune system, depending on the type of mold and amount consumed, there could be serious deficits to consumer health. Those who suffer from allergies and asthma are particularly prone to the negative side effects associated with mold. Regardless, anyone who’s ever taken a bite into a slice of bread only to see the blue fuzz staring back knows to stay as far away from moldy food as possible! One of the easiest ways to do this just involves skipping the ice.
9. Many Countries Do Not Use Ice!
One of the most clear reasons for skipping out on the ice the next time your at a fast food restaurant is related directly to the examination of drink consumption in other parts of the world. It seems that the need for icy cold drinks and water glasses filled to the brim with ice are typically a North American requirement. In other countries, cool, room temperature or hot drinks are typically consumed at meal times. Ancient Chinese medicine has for centuries promoted the use of hot drinks to counteract cold temperatures, promote balance and to kick start the digestive system. It turns out that there was real science behind the act and the tradition has carried on for centuries. Today it seems that culturally many countries have chosen to stick to hot drinks or room temperature drinks and each side has its benefits and downfalls. It seems to be that typically people enjoy the drink temperature that they have grown accustomed to. Young children who grow up having extremely cold beverages will typically develop a liking to the cooler temperature drinks. This is the same for children raised on hot or room temperature drinks. Breaking up with ice is hard but it may be good for consumer health! Breaking the habit of ice in drinks will also make for a much nicer traveling experience because the craving for freezing cold beverages will melt away. Many travelers have been left abroad without realizing the lack of freezing cold beverages available. A small issue when traveling, but an easy one to fix from home!
8. Ice Machines: Dirtier than the Toilet!
One of the most disgusting and stomach turning reasons to avoid fast food drinks with ice is because of the amount of similarities that the ice machine shares with the restaurant toilet! This is of course referring to the amount of bacteria that is found within the ice machines – a practical haven for bacteria. Despite best efforts, employees can commonly interact with the ice machines with unclean hands. These unwashed hands are able to easily infect an entire ice machine. This is one of the main reasons why “Employees Must Wash Hands” signs are so commonplace on bathroom doors and mirrors – especially at fast food establishments. As many are aware, one of the best ways to easily spread disease is through the transfer of human waste. Even if employees DO wash their hands, their interactions with the public means that they are likely to come into contact with fecal waste during their shift. According to one study completed in the UK, six out of ten restaurants – including some of the biggest names in fast food – had ice that contained more bacteria than the toilet water at the selected restaurants. Restaurants should think twice before they charge for water that is less clean than that in the toilets, and customers should be informed about the potential dangers they face when they are presumably safe! Next time, avoid paying for a drink and grab a glass of restaurant toilet water instead! Apparently, it’s probably cleaner!
7. Ice Cold Beverages Slow Down Fat Diffusion
Although the mind and the heart may have a special love connection with ice itself, it would appear that the rest of the body tries to forgo it at all costs. In addition to restricting blood flow through tightened blood vessels, cold ice is being questioned for its effects in fat dissolution. When eating a greasy fast food meal, the body must prepare to try and fight through some of the less healthy aspects of the delicious dining experience. One of the main jobs of the body at this time is to help break down the high fat meal that may have just been consumed from the local burger joint. Unfortunately, the drinking of ice cold beverages once again seems like it may inhibit the body’s ability to complete its natural tasks. Consuming icy drinks alongside a fatty meal creates differences in the food compounds, making it increasingly difficult for the food to be properly digested. In this case, the cold drink is actually aiding in the re-solidification of oils and fats. At this point, instead of breaking down hot oils and fats that have already begun the dissolving process, the fats and oils must be processed in a much more difficult manner as they have once again returned to a nearly solidified state. Skipping out on the ice and opting for a cooler not cold option will greatly aid the body, the most important vessel on earth.
6. Melted Ice is the PERFECT Way to RUIN a Drink
One of the most obvious reasons for avoiding the ice is the simple fact that it has the potential to ruin the flavor of the drink itself! Almost immediately after pouring the delicious syrup from the soda machine over the ice, the thirst quenching pop begins to lose the iconic taste that it has taken companies sometimes hundreds of years to perfect! Doesn’t it seem that if the cola needed more water in it, the recipe would include it? If one is able to guzzle back their drink at a fast rate they’ll probably be able to avoid majority of the ice melt. But on a hot summer day, or if the drink just gets left a little bit too long, the ice has the potential to completely ruin that next gulp of what is supposed to be a refreshing beverage! Don’t forget that the majority of major soda machines already use some sort of cooling technique to ensure that the beverage is served cool. Ask the cashier if the beverage can be served without ice or fill it ice free at the soda fountain. Skip the ice and save that sweet sugary soda!
5. Especially Avoid Ice When Sick
Another potentially important reason for skipping the ice in a restaurant drink in favor of the chilled soda itself is another factor relating directly to physical health. For thousands of years humans have noticed the physical benefits of both hot and cold beverages. It seems that these differences in beverage temperature relate directly to how the body may be able to fight off cold and flu symptoms! As well as increased knowledge regarding blood vessel constriction, a study in the 70’s was able to prove that those with cold and flu symptoms found that hot broth from chicken noodle soup was able to aid in decreasing symptoms while ice cold water increased symptoms of congestion. Staying hydrated is absolutely key during any illness, but cold drinks should be avoided in order to avoid increasing any unpleasant side effects. If anyone is feeling the debilitating symptoms of the cold and flu season such as congested nose and throat, perhaps skip the cold ice coffee and opt for a hot tea instead!
4. Potential for Foreign Objects and Other Debris
Another one of the major reasons for avoiding ice when dining out has to do with the design features of the ice machine and the human contact that is associated with it. Many ice machines that are used in large corporate structures are large ice bins with scoops that require manual scooping into the soda fountain. This aspect of human contact prior to eating is where the issue lies. The door itself on many ice machines is extremely large in order to remove heavy buckets of ice in a single scoop. Although this makes things much quicker, it does not provide the most sanitary system of ice delivery. When the ice door opens, a draft is sucked directly into the ice machine. This has the potential to result in dirt, dust, hair, bacteria and an assortment of other nasty items inside the machine. Even small debris could potentially fall into these ice machines if the door has been left unattended. Ice is meant to add the ultimate level of refreshment to any beverage. There is nothing refreshing about getting a glass full of soda with mix-ins of dust and hair left unwanted and unpaid for. Skipping out on the ice the next time when dining out helps to guarantee that the quality of the meal is up to standard, as the lack of quality control regarding ice leaves it’s presence in the meal rather questionable.
3. Icy Drinks Inhibit Digestion Abilities
One of the most surprising reasons to stay away from ice relates directly to the way in which the beverage, and food consumed alongside it, are actually digested. Once the food bypasses the lips of a customer, the only thought process from there is typically the delicious taste. Although the food does disappear from sight, inside the body, miracles are at work to help break down all that delicious wonder. Unfortunately, if someone washes down that spicy sandwich or salty fries with an ice cold drink, their bodies might be cursing them. Some studies have begun to indicate that the blood vessels within the body begin to contract which inhibits the ability of the body to digest foods. When these blood vessels tighten, the body begins to contract. When this occurs in the stomach area or along the route of digestion, it can make it more difficult for the body to properly finish its job, which without ice, is typically an easy and daily task! The cold stomach muscles just want to go home for a nap and don’t want to do the work! Although the ice may soothe that feeling of beating the heat, in reality, it makes the body continue to work harder! Next time when at the drink fountain, maybe just bypass that ice and stick to something a little less sub-zero! The tummy will thank you!
2. More ice means less value!
It’s not surprising that North Americans are so inclined to enjoy the taste of icy drinks. This has been done strategically by fast food companies! It makes sense that the country that laid the foundation for fast food restaurants has the biggest craving for icy drinks, that’s exactly what the restaurants wanted! Years ago it was realized that people were willing to pay for drinks, and the ice seemed like an add-on product. People actually believed the more ice in the cup, the better the value! Now it has been realized that this is simply a way to provide less soda for the consumer. This is especially apparent when someone picks up a drink from a drive thru service counter. There’s nothing worse than having a few sips out of the straw and realizing the cup is basically empty just down the street! People also typically are not a fan of paying for water, what society knows as a necessity for human life and therefore typically a free product.
1. The FDA Only Regulates Bagged Ice
One of the biggest issues with ice consumption from fast food restaurants, is that consumers assume that there are individuals and organizations tasked with protecting them from potentially harmful practices and items. Unfortunately when it comes to restaurant ice, the FDA or Food and Drug Administration, only regulates and monitors the production of pre-packaged bagged ice. While this may not be a concern for certain restaurants, the majority of large and busy restaurants would need ice makers in order to produce the amount of ice required to serve the multitudes of thirsty customers. This means that besides potentially a local health inspector, ice machines can often be forgotten and left to the care of the restaurant owners or often overworked staff, many of whom are unaware of the dangers lurking within their own restaurant that they proudly deem a clean establishment! Considering that ice machines are a mechanism that are used every single day, it is disgusting to think about how often they are not turned off and completely cleansed – a routine procedure for most restaurant items. There’s no way to tell exactly how often these ice machines are cleaned, so it is at the buyer’s discretion whether the ice is worth the risk.