Three of Britain’s biggest chains of coffee shops were found to have bacteria from faeces in their ice.
According to an investigation by BBC’s Watchdog programme, there were varying levels of the bacteria found in samples of iced drinks from Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Caffe Nero.
Costa ice was found to be contaminated in seven out of 10 samples tested. At Starbucks and Caffe Nero, three out of 10 samples analysed were found to have bacteria known as faecal coliforms.
“These should not be present at any level – never mind the significant numbers”
Tony Lewis, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
Margarita Gomez Escalada, a microbiologist and senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University who carried out the tests, said that 10 coffee shops of the three different chains were looked at.
She said it was most likely that the ice was contaminated by dirty hands.
“The levels allowed by law of bacteria in tap water are super low, so we would find say maybe 10 microorganisms per millilitre – we found hundreds per millilitre,” she added.
Tony Lewis, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, told the programme: “The level of contamination of faecal bacteria concerns me a great deal.
“The bacteria found are opportunistic pathogens – the source of human disease. These should not be present at any level – never mind the significant numbers.”
Costa said: “Following these results we took immediate action to review our food safety procedures and have updated our ice-handling guidelines and are in the process of introducing new ice equipment storage across our estate.”
A Caffe Nero spokesman said a “thorough investigation” was underway following the revelations.
While Starbucks said: “We have moved quickly to conduct our own investigation into the claims about the stores.”