Three of the UK's most popular coffee chains have been found to have fecal bacteria in a number of their drinks.
An investigation carried out by BBC One’s consumer series Watchdog discovered that samples from iced drinks were contaminated with bacteria following tests for cleanliness on tables, trays, and high chairs at Manchester branches of Costa, Starbucks, and Caffé Nero.
With the UK having recently seen some of the highest temperatures in 40 years, the major chains have all launched campaigns for their new iced summer drinks.
When the ice samples were analysed by a lab, faecal coliforms were found – sometimes at levels which scientists described as 'off the scale', reports our sister paper The Liverpool Echo.
These coliforms – which contain pathogens that have the potential to make consumers ill or cause infection – were present on 7/10 ice samples in Costa, 3/10 ice samples in Caffé Nero and 3/10 ice samples in Starbucks.
As part of their investigation, the team consulted Tony Lewis – Head of Policy and Education at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health on the findings.
Speaking within the programme, Tony said: “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 found.”
Responding to the investigation, the coffee shop chains commented as follows:
“We want to assure your viewers that we take hygiene and cleanliness extremely seriously. We have moved quickly to conduct our own investigation into the claims about the stores you have identified. All employees nationwide have received updated training on our high standards of hygiene including ice handling. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers.”
“We were disappointed with the findings, especially as these stores are all rated Very Good with a the top Hygiene Rating of 5. It is extremely important to us that all our stores operate to high standards of hygiene at all times and we take it very seriously when any store fails to meet these standards. We adopt industry standard cleaning processes across all our stores, in line with the Food Standard Agency’s advice. 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.”
“At Caffè Nero we take the cleanliness and safety of our stores very seriously. We have a team dedicated solely to ensuring that all aspects of safety are maintained and our stores have detailed and timely cleaning schedules to ensure that they are kept up to standard. These standards are regularly audited by our Operations team.
“Our food safety standards and procedures are signed off by our Primary Authority Partner, Eastleigh Borough Council who also work with us to continuously improve our high standards. All of our staff are trained on these procedures and 99% of our stores are rated as very good, good or satisfactory by their local EHO – making us one of the most highly rated businesses on the high street.
“We are concerned to read the findings in your recent report and a thorough investigation is now underway and the appropriate action will be taken.”
The new series, presented by Matt Allwright, Steph McGovern and Nikki Fox, is on BBC One tonight (Wednesday, June 28) at 8pm.