A television show in the United Kingdom did some digging and found dirt — quite literally, in the form of human poop — in some major chain coffee houses, including Starbucks.
BBC’s “Watchdog” took samples from iced drinks from Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Caffe Nero (the three most popular chains in the U.K.) and found they all contained levels of bacteria, which an expert from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Tony Lewis, called “concerning.”
"These should not be present at any level — never mind the significant numbers found," he added, the BBC reported.
Tables, trays and high chairs were also tested at 30 locations.
Seven out of 10 samples of ice at Costa Coffee were contaminated by feces, according to the report, while three out of 10 samples tested positive for fecal coliforms at both Starbucks and Caffe Nero.
Fecal coliforms form in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a fecal coliform, but there is no indication E. coli is present at any of the chains, Newsweek reported.
Lewis called the bacteria "opportunistic pathogens — the source of human disease.”
All three chains and the locations where the 10 samples were taken have high inspection ratings, according to She Knows. The ice contamination could have been the result of employees not taking the “employees must wash their hands” signs seriously.
Costa told the BBC that ice-handling guidelines were updated and new ice equipment storage was being introduced.
The chain told The Telegraph, "We were disappointed with the findings, especially as these stores are all rated 'very good' with a top hygiene rating of five.”
Starbucks said it is launching an investigation into the claims, adding that the chain takes hygiene "extremely seriously.” A Caffe Nero spokesman told the BBC that the company is undertaking said "a thorough investigation" and will take "appropriate action.”