There may be fecal bacteria in your Starbucks iced coffee, investigation finds

A BBC investigation found fecal bacteria in ice from Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero.

The investigation into U.K. coffee chains by BBC’s Watchdog team found that samples of ice from the three biggest coffee chains– Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero drinks contained “varying levels of the bacteria.”

And it’s not the good kind of bacteria — it’s the bacteria found in feces. During the BBC’s investigation, seven out of 10 samples of Costa iced coffee were contaminated with bacteria, while three out of 10 samples from Starbucks and Caffe Nero had the bacteria.

Tony Lewis, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, told the BBC that the level of bacteria found at these chains was “concerning” and could become a “source of human disease.”

“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,” a spokesperson for Costa said in a statement to MarketWatch. “We adopt industry standard cleaning processes across all our stores, in line with the Food Standard Agency’s advice. Following these results we have taken immediate action to update our ice handling procedures.”

Caffe Nero and Starbucks, at press time, had not responded to MarketWatch requests for comment, but both companies reportedly told the BBC they were conducting their own investigations into the claims.

To be fair, fecal bacteria lurking in places you wouldn’t expect is surprisingly common. As many as half of all office coffee cups have fecal bacteria on them, scientists say. Many coffee cups get fecal matter on them when people wash them with dirty sponges.

And you probably don’t want to order ice with your in-flight drinks, either.

“The ice is put in a tray with a scoop, and the trays don’t get cleaned very often,” one airline flight attendant said in a recent MarketWatch report. “Every surface on the plane is touched by hundreds of people daily and not often disinfected. We don’t have the opportunity to wash our hands at all during the beverage service.”

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