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Restaurant ice has a dirty little secret

When 30 bartenders were asked by Business Insider to share industry inside scoop that they really shouldn’t, one spilled a particularly troubling response.

“Almost no restaurants or bars,” the unnamed barkeep revealed, “clean their ice machines as regularly as they’re supposed to.”

That doesn’t that doesn’t bode well for cocktails, soda or even water on the rocks.

The bartender’s revelation isn’t new, but it reminds that restaurants are required by law to periodically clean and sanitize ice machines to keep dirt, mold and bacteria from forming.

But not every place does that.

Establishments that don’t follow guidelines to keep ice machines sanitary can be hit by stiff penalties. Fines can be “$100,000 in regular circumstances, or up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations if the misdemeanor results in death,” according to the Business Insider report.

Still, contaminated ice has been linked with causing foodborne illness in the U.S.

Nine years ago, tainted ice was found to be the culprit for sickening two newlyweds and about 70 wedding guests at a reception.

And in 2011, a study found that about a third of Las Vegas food establishment ice dispensers were hotbeds for breeding bacteria.

Dirty ice is, of course, not restricted to the U.S. In 2013, ice cubes at KFC restaurants in China were found to be riddled with 13 times more bacteria than toilet water.

What to do? Order that next Dirty Martini neat. When it’s on the rocks or straight up, ice is involved and it could be twice as dirty.

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