There's nothing quite as refreshing on a hot summer morning as stopping by your local coffee shop to pick up a cool, caffeine-filled iced coffee. Well, you might want to think twice the next time you order up a tall one. The BBC's consumer TV series Watchdog tested the ice used in cold beverages at three of Britain's biggest coffee chains—Starbucks, Costa Coffee, and Caffe Nero—and found fecal bacteria in all of them, as Grub Street reports.
The fecal bacteria, which survive in the digestive tract and can handle freezing temps, were found in 30 percent of Starbuck's drinks (as compared to a whopping 70 percent of drinks at Costa Coffee—yikes!). And apparently, it's disturbingly not uncommon to find this type of bacteria in ice machines, as evidenced by a 2010 soda fountain fecal contamination. So aside from the extreme gross-out factor, should we be concerned?
Um, yes, according to a spokesperson for the food-safety group Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, who was quoted in the Grub Street article as saying, "These should not be present at any level, never mind the significant numbers found.” Apparently the fecal bacteria contamination was at a level that "concerns me a great deal," the spokesperson said.
And sure, the tests were conducted on coffee chains in the UK, but who's to say our ice is any safer? (In fact, it's likely worse.)
Starbucks has said it will investigate its ice-handling procedures, but in the meantime, you might want to make your own iced coffee or stick to ordering hot coffee—even on a sweltering 90-degree day.
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