The next time you fancy a refreshing iced coffee on a hot day, you might want to put some extra thought into choosing where to part with your cash – because faecal bacteria has just been found in ice at three major coffee shops.
Researchers visited Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero to test their cleanliness and ended up finding “concerning” levels of faecal bacteria in samples of iced drinks. We have no words, aside from: vom.
The investigation, carried out by the BBC's Watchdog, found faecal coliforms, which contain disease-causing pathogens (i.e. they could make people ill), in 70% of samples in Costa, 30% of Starbucks samples and 30% of Caffe Nero samples.
The researchers also tested tables, trays and high chairs for their cleanliness at over 30 branches.
Tony Lewis, an expert from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, called the levels of faecal bacteria "concerning" and said they "should not be present at any level – never mind the significant numbers found," the BBC reported.
It's unclear exactly how these bacteria made their way into the ice, but all three chains affected said they had now taken action. Thoughtful of them, eh?
A Costa spokesperson said the company was "disappointed" by the findings and that it had reviewed its food safety procedures and updated its ice-handling guidelines. It's also introducing new ice equipment across its stores, reported The Telegraph.
Starbucks said "nothing is more important" than customer safety and that it's conducting its own investigation into the claims. "All employees nationwide have received updated training on our high standards of hygiene including ice handling," its spokesperson added.
Caffe Nero also said it was undertaking "a thorough investigation" and that it would take "appropriate action".
Just to be safe, it might be worth perfecting your own iced coffee recipe. You'll save money – and possibly your health – in the process.
If you've got a strong enough stomach, check out the episode of Watchdog tonight at 8pm on BBC One.