Faecal bacteria found in ice at Costa, Caffè Nero and Starbucks

29 June 2017

Ice from three major coffee chains in the UK has been found to contain faecal bacteria.

An undercover investigation by the BBC’s Watchdog programme revealed that iced water obtained from high street outlets Caffè Nero, Starbucks and Costa Coffee all contained faecal coliform bacteria.

These coliforms – which contain pathogens that could make people ill if they drink them – were present on seven out of 10 samples from Costa and three out of 10 samples from the other two chains.

Cleanliness of tables, trays, and high chairs at the chains was also tested at 30 branches.

Tony Lewis, the head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, 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."

Margarita Gomez Escalada, a microbiologist at Leeds Beckett University who carried out the analysis for the BBC programme, said it was most likely that ice was contaminated by being touched by unclean hands. She added that ice machines and ice buckets might have compounded the issue if they were not properly cleaned.

All three chains said they had now "taken action," in light of the findings with Costa claiming it had "updated its ice-handling guidelines and was in the process of introducing new ice equipment storage".

Meanwhile, both Starbucks and Caffè Nero told the BBC they were conducting their own investigations into the claims.