The Chinese government’s official broadcast media says that ice cubes served in KFC were 12 times dirtier than toilet water—and 19 times the national bacteria level standard.
The report, which was based on samples the China Central Television (CCTV) reporter took in eastern Beijing, found that ice cubes at Chinese fast food chain Kung Fu also out-germed toilet water. While McDonald’s ice cubes also exceeded the national bacteria level standard, though they were still cleaner than toilet water.
A food safety expert interviewed in the initial segment—CCTV has since aired many more—said the bacteria could cause dysentery and diarrhea (link in Chinese). After the initial CCTV report aired on Sunday, discussion of the issue went, er, viral on Sina Weibo. Since then, KFC, McDonald’s and Kung Fu have all apologized and vowed to clean their ice machines. Here’s a look at some of the footage from the CCTV report (link in Chinese):
Toilets are obviously not primed for drinking; the risk they pose to human health comes from bacteria transmitted via fecal matter—bacteria like e. coli, for instance.
But while the CCTV report was based on the raw number of bacteria colonies, it didn’t reveal what sort of bacteria it found.