An episode of Watchdog that airs this evening will claim that ice from three of the UK’s biggest coffee shop chains has been found to contain bacteria from faeces.
Samples of iced drinks from Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Caffe Nero contained varying levels of the bacteria, according to investigators working for the BBC show.
At least one of the chains said it was in the process of rolling in new ice equipment storage following the revelation.
Tony Lewis, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, described the level found as “concerning”. He told the BBC: “These should not be present at any level – never mind the significant numbers found.”
Seven out of 10 samples of Costa ice were found to be contaminated with bacteria found in faeces.
At both Starbucks and Caffe Nero, three out of 10 samples tested contained the bacteria known as faecal coliforms.
Cleanliness of tables, trays, and high chairs at the chains was also tested at 30 branches.
All three chains affected say they have now taken action.
Costa said it had updated its ice-handling guidelines and was in the process of introducing new ice equipment storage.
Starbucks said it was now conducting its own investigation into the claims and takes hygiene “extremely seriously”.
Caffe Nero said “a thorough investigation” was underway, and that the chain would take “appropriate action”.
It is not the first time that the BBC has carried out an investigation into ice hygiene at well-known foodservice chains.
Last year it claimed that faecal bacteria detected in ice cubes from a branch of KFC came from water that made the ice.
Kitchen equipment experts suggested that the bacteria was most probably the result of poor personal hygiene standards, presumably on the part of a member of staff, as opposed to water used in the icemaker (click link below for full story).