Student finds toilet water cleaner than ice at fast food restaurants
New Tampa, Florida - 12-year-old Jasmine Roberts is a seventh-grade student at Benito Middle School in New Tampa.
When it came time for her to choose a science project, she wondered about the ice in fast food restaurants.
Jasmine Roberts, 7th-grade student:
"My hypothesis was that the fast food restaurants’ ice would contain more bacteria that the fast food restaurants’ toilet water."
So Roberts set out to test her hypothesis, selecting five fast food restaurants, within a ten-mile radius of the University of South Florida.
Roberts says at each restaurant she flushed the toilet once, the used sterile gloves to gather samples.
"Using the sterile beaker I scooped up some water and closed the lid."
Roberts also collected ice from soda fountains inside the five fast food restaurants. She also asked for cups of ice at the same restaurant's drive thru windows.
She tested the samples at a lab at the Moffitt Cancer Center where she volunteers with a USF professor. Roberts says the results did not surprise her.
"I found that 70-percent of the time, the ice from the fast food restaurant's contain more bacteria than the fast food restaurant's toilet water."
Roberts' graph shows the toilet water, shown in red, had less bacteria in most cases than the ice inside shown in blue, and the ice from drive-through windows shown in green. Roberts' teacher says he wasn't surprised either.
Mark Danish, Honors Science Teacher:
"It does concern me and I think with any restaurant you have to think twice about what you may get there."
Roberts says she'll think twice before getting ice at fast food restaurants again.
Her project won the science fair at Benito Middle School, and she hopes to win the top prize at the Hillsborough County Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which starts Tuesday at the USF Sun Dome.