As hard as it is for some people to accept it, the title is very true. In a BBC Watchdog investigation earlier this week, three out of ten samples of Starbucks iced drinks contained fecal bacteria.
Sure, this is not the news we wanted but it is something we need to know. BCC investigators obtained samples of iced water from ten Starbucks coffee shops in the United Kingdom and as mentioned above three of those samples tested positive for fecal coliform bacteria. While it may not necessarily cause disease we definitely don’t want to be ingesting it. Some of the bacteria they found are actually considered to be ‘opportunistic pathogens’ which do not generally cause disease in healthy people. However, they can have a negative effect on those who have reduced immune systems.
Margarita Gomez Escalada a microbiologist at Leeds Beckett University who helped with conducting the study told the Guardian that the bacteria could have been introduced by unclean hands or improperly cleaned ice machines. It won’t make us bedridden or ill right off the bat but it does increase our risks of getting sick. That being said skipping your daily iced coffee or drink of choice may not be something you have to do. This study caused Starbucks to begin an internal investigation themselves and according to a representative, there will be a new ice-handling process launched if need be after the investigation is over with.
One could also argue that the study carried out by BBC was too small and makes it hard to generalize all Starbucks locations. Finding fecal coliform bacteria does not mean there is poop in your drink, just bacteria that can come from poop. So, for now, I wouldn’t think too much of it but I would be sure to pay attention to where my food and drinks are coming from. Some restaurants are just cleaner than others, this is broken down to individual stores and not whole chains. Be aware.