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Study: Majority of Street Drinks Contain Harmful Bacteria and Heavy Metals

Fake coffee isn’t the only think you need to worry about when having a drink at a street café in Saigon. A joint report released by Healthplus in collaboration with the Center for Evaluation and Conformation found that nearly all unbolted beverages contain high levels of bacteria, heavy metals and fungi.

The organizations collected random samples from a number of common street drinks such as iced tea, sugarcane juice and corn milk. Every sample tested contained B.cereus and 90% tested positive for E.coli, both of which are major causes of food poising. And it gets worse. According to VietnamNet:

"About 33% of the samples had an aerobic bacteria content exceeding the permitted level, another 33% contained heavy metals like lead, mercury and cadmium, while some 45% had more fungi than allowed."

It’s nice to see studies like this being done but it raises more questions than it answers. Since this is the first major study of its kind, there’s no data set to compare it with, making it unclear whether the contamination is a growing or declining health risk. In addition, there’s no data to show how contaminated drinks are affecting public health.

While we don’t doubt the results, we’ve consumed thousands of these drinks with no ill effects, leaving us wondering how serious an issue this actually is. Maybe we’ve been lucky enough to avoid the B.cereus and E.coli but those heavy metals are slow and silent killers.

[Vietnam Net // Photo via Galen Stolee]

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