Be Careful When Eating Ice In India While Travelling

There are reports of an increase in cases of jaundice (hepatitis), typhoid fever and diarrhoea in Chennai. A major source of these illnesses is thought to be crushed ice used in drinks. Many stalls in Chennai selling fresh fruit juice prefer to use cheaper commercial ice, which is sourced from fish vendors. These slabs of ice are made in unlicensed units and may contain bacteria such as Escherichia coli and salmonella, along with chemicals like lead and arsenic. Because of staff shortages, inspection of ice production facilities by officials is rarely done. In addition, the absence of quality standards and guidelines for manufacturing ice hampers monitoring. Officials who have visited ice manufacturing units report that most of them have unhygienic environments. They use untreated water from bore wells or water tankers, and the ice blocks may be wrapped in dirty sacks and handled by workers with bare hands. Officials note that it is almost impossible to check the ice used by a multitude of street vendors. Only a few elite clubs and hotels in the city buy ice made of treated water.

Be Careful During Your Travels

This situation is not unique. In most developing tropical nations, ice used in fruit juices, soft drinks and cocktails can be a major source of serious illness. Avoiding ice, especially from street vendors, will help keep you safe and healthy during your travels.

Thanks to Andy Wright for the use of his photo in the featured image.