Beware before you ask for ice cubes to chill up your soft drinks, fruit or milk shakes or a favourite cocktail anywhere outside. The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation revealed on Thursday that it found the dreaded E. coli bacteria in 92 per cent of all ice samples tested prior to the monsoon across the city.
The presence of the bacteria - indicative of inferior/impure quality of water used to freeze into ice-cubes - can lead to severe gastroenteritis, diarrhea, vomiting, food poisoning and other illnesses.
The samples were tested in all 24 BMC wards from ice sellers, hotels, restaurants, bars, juice stalls, dairies, sweetmeat shops, ice-gola vendors, fast food outlets, lassi sellers, etc.
The development comes barely a week after bread - used widely in homes and by Mumbaikars in the form of sandwiches, 'vada-pavs', 'pav-bhaji' and other quick meals - was found to contain certain potentially carcinogenic substances.
Of the tests outcome, more than a quarter - 26 per cent - of water and food samples collected and tested from street food and drinks vendors were found to contain the bacteria, the BMC said.
A total of 948 ice samples were taken across Mumbai of which a whopping 870 - or 92 per cent - were found to be infected.
Of the 476 water samples collected from streetside vendors, 126 - or 26 per cent - tested positive for the presence of the bacteria, during the sampling done in May, prior to onset of monsoon which brings in many water-borne diseases in the city.
Following the outcome, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has directed further stringent measures to check the quality of ice, water and food among all vendors to prevent outbreak of any major health issues during the upcoming monsoons.
In certain areas of the city, like B, C, D, F-North, G-North, K-East, R-South, N and T wards, the entire, or 100 per cent, ice samples were found to contain E. coli bacteria, while the overall city percentage came to 92 per cent.
The samples were collected from 552 shops, 2,995 street vendors and the tests were conducted on 1.12 tonnes of sweetmeats, 4.56 tonnes of all types of eatables, 4.81 tonnes of all types of water/drinks.beverages, 3.90 tonnes fruits-vegetables, and after finding the alarmingly high presence of E. coli, the stocks were immediately destroyed.
The BMC has appealed to Mumbaikars to exercise utmost caution before consuming food or drinks outside to safeguard their health, especially with monsoon round the corner.