Some Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-area ice cream cones may hold more than your favorite flavor. An investigation discovered that local ice cream shops are selling soft-serve with more than 10 times the state limit of coliform bacteria, which commonly contains E. coli.
While none of the ice cream tested positive for dangerous strains of E. coli, experts say that too much of less-toxic bacteria can also sicken consumers with food poisoning. The state has sent out more than 40 warning letters to restaurants and ice cream parlors in Allegheny County since January 2007. Some of the vendors that have received warnings about excessive bacteria levels include: Dairy Queen at the Mall at Robinson, Scally's Golf Center in Moon, Sonic in Tarentum, and Dairy Queen on Library Road in Bethel Park.
Almost all of the ice cream parlors that failed initial PA inspections got in compliance with state regulations. The state only inspects soft-serve machines; all other ice cream is tested at the plants where it is produced. Inspectors say that the most effective way to prevent bacteria contamination is to clean soft-serve machines every day, as required by the law.