Dairy Queen: A Kingdom for Bacteria?

The sweet treats of summer are becoming a distant memory as cooler temperatures move in, but their lingering effects may make you wary of your next ice cream cone.  Many fast food restaurants, cafeterias, state fairs and festivals have found the popular soft serve ice cream a big hit with their patrons.  Dairy Queen, a favorite spot for delicious ice cream delights, could actually be a source of your tummy aches from food poisoning.  A kingdom of bacteria could be hiding in the nooks and crannies of the machine that is used to hold, chill and deliver the creamy treat.

Last year in Xiamen, China, a Dairy Queen establishment was shut down temporarily due to high levels of colon bacillus found in their products.  Bacillus, a rod shaped bacteria, is usually found in the intestinal tract of all humans and animals.  Too much of the bacteria, which was found in the Xiamen Dairy Queen, can cause harmful effects on the digestion system.  Symptoms include fever, headaches, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea.  The food service restaurant cleaned up their act and have since then been monitored on a regular basis.  They have been cleared and are following strict codes of cleaning and disinfecting their soft serve ice cream machines.  The swirl of controversy has caused others in the food industry to follow suit as to not jeopardize their profits and reputations.

Dairy Queen, owned by Warren Buffett, is a trusted name across America and worldwide.  It is a cool spot to hang out for families, baseball teams and teenagers.  It has left a wholesome image in our minds over the years, so the employees are trained to take extra care in keeping things up to par.  Along with their famous soft serve ice cream, they also have hot sandwiches to offer.  The key in any restaurant, large or small, is heeding proper temperatures for cooking and chilling of menu items.  All machines need to be maintained, cleaned and disinfected daily, as well as employees following mandatory hand washing routines.  Keeping customers healthy is as much a goal as keeping their palates happy.

Soft serve machines produce the airy ice cream at a temperature of 18 degrees and are allowed by food safety standards to hold the product over-night at a temperature of 38 degrees.  The best way to insure the absence of bacteria, is to discard the left overs and start fresh each day with a new batch.  Small events using the machines are particularly at risk for harboring unwanted bacteria, due to untrained volunteers and unsanitary methods of adding unused ice cream from the day before.  The machines might be cleaned using well water, which could contain bacteria.  The simple, yet tasty treat involves careful preparation and chilling, so the customer should be aware of the risks.  If food poisoning develops, the patient should avoid solid food, including dairy products and drink plenty of fluids.  It symptoms persist longer than 48 hours, a doctor’s care may be necessary.

Food businesses count on their returning customers and positive feedback as they strive for quality and taste against the competition.   No mishaps can be allowed when it comes to safety and production of food.  Employees are as important as all the other factors a business relies on, especially in the food arena.  Dairy Queen has not been DQ’ed and is still reigning, as a kingdom for bacteria is over-ruled and served up to their crowned customers.

By: Roanne FitzGibbon

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