Why you should be careful with the ice they put in your drink

In Spain, we are used to always ice in ours drinks so they are fresher. In fact, every Spanish consumes ten kilos a year, which places us, according to the National Association of Food Ice Manufacturers, "well above Western countries, except for the United States, which is the main consumer worldwide." And the truth is that it is a key ingredient and not, as many believe, one more complement.

It is a tradition that increases in the summer with the increase in temperatures, but when we travel to other countries we realize that in most, if you do not ask, they do not put them on. And maybe from now on, you think twice.

Have you ever felt a bit weird after drinking a soda with ice? It is possible that those cubes were the culprits. Why? They may contain foreign bodies or a surprising amount of fecal bacteria. Yes, you read it right.

Is it bad or good?

Nobody wants to think about anything eschatological when talking about food or drink, but according to the 'Guardian' published in 2017 about three big coffee companies (Starbucks, Costa and Caffé Nero), when investigating their ice discovered germs that live in the excrement. 30% of two of the companies were contaminated while the third was 70%.

If you are going to make ice at home you must have a couple of things in mind: it is important to maintain the hygiene of the containers and choose the silicone ones

Experts say that there is a reason to worry. "Definitely I would think twice in taking something that may have detectable levels of fecal infection. "And not only in these breakfast establishments but also in fast food chains such as KFC, Burger, King or McDonal's, as stated in an article published in 'Business Insider'.

In addition many bars and restaurants do not clean well the machines that have to make ice and it is very possible that contain mold. It is a reality, there are places where hygiene is not taken care of. There are companies that are dedicated to the care of these refractory equipment and ensure that 75% of the time when they arrive to repair the device is full of black mud, greasy, "as with a life of its own."


Not only can you get an infection, but also viruses like the one in Salmonella, E.Coli, hepatitis A or norovirus. The low temperatures found in ice machines will not kill the bacteria and will not inactivate them either. These microorganisms can survive in these conditions, something that increases the chances of getting sick.

And if you think that the alcohol that you put in the glass is going to be like an antiseptic that will neutralize the bacteria, you are wrong. According to a study published in 'Annals of Microbiology' in which 52 strains of germs were analyzed and with which it was proved if these liquids were able to eliminate some of them, it was discovered that the whiskey was the only one that could get rid of all the microorganisms.

Bag or homemade?

According to the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), it is better to buy them bagged. This organization carried out an analysis of more than a score of ice bags purchased in establishments in Madrid and Alicante and He did not detect hygiene or safety problems in any of them. Even though many freezers contained broken bags and many others did not show the hygiene they should have, none had ice that contained high traces of microbes or microorganisms harmful to health.

Each Spanish consumes ten kilos a year, which places us well above the average of the rest of Western countries

If you are one of those who do it at home and want to avoid an upset, you should pay special attention to several aspects. The first, the water quality. It is important make sure it's drinkable, because when it is deficient it can contain viruses, bacteria and pathogens, organic compounds and chemical substances that do not eliminate when they are frozen. Therefore, not only do they constitute a risk to personal health, but also compromise the quality of the product.

It is also important to maintain the hygiene of the containers and choose the ones from silicone. Do not put them near meats or fish because they will absorb their flavor, and you probably do not want to take a snack with beef flavor.