By: Robin Andrews/IFL Science From under your fingernails to inside a batch of unfortunate Coke cans, fecal matter sure turns up in the strangest of places. Now, after an investigation by the BBC, it seems that it’s contaminating the drinks in a few popular coffee chain stores in the UK too. Specifically, the ice used in things like Frappuccinos often contains bacteria present in feces.
Samples of iced drinks from Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, and Starbucks in the UK were analyzed by the BBC’s Watchdog and were found to have “concerning” levels of poop-based microbes swimming around in them. Every three out of 10 Caffe Nero and Starbucks iced drinks were found to have significant levels of bacteria within them – and seven out of 10 samples of ice from Costa were also teeming with the little critters.
It barely needs saying that there shouldn’t actually be any remnants of poo-borne organisms in any iced drink, but the frequency in which these feces-loving bacteria have been found in this investigation is genuinely quite shocking. At this point, it’s not clear how these bacteria are even getting into the ice supply.
The bacteria are known as fecal coliforms, nasty beasties that fester in the intestines of a wide range of animals. Ingesting too many can cause anything from a mild stomach upset to something more serious like gastroenteritis.
Their appearance in water supplies suggests that there has been a failure in the treatment system – a breach wherein human effluent is somehow sneaking its way into presumably potable water. The BBC is still looking into it, and each of the three coffee chains has said that they’re starting their own investigations into the matter.
It’s worth pointing out that there have been no reports of a mass outbreak of stomach-based illnesses in the UK, so the bacteria may be present in low enough quantities to essentially not cause most people a problem. Nevertheless, this is obviously a major breach in health and safety.
Hopefully, the problem is fixed soon, and you can go back to enjoying your iced drinks without worrying that a tsunami of poop will rocket out of your backside afterwards.