Contaminated Ice

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An investigation carried out by BBC Watchdog has found that high street coffee shop giants, Costa, Starbucks and Nero tested positive for excrement in the ice they use. Following a string of recalls by big retailers such as Sainsbury’s and Aldi, the shocking results are angering consumers as their trust is tested once again.

Our Dawn Rose, Personal Injury solicitor, explains how the findings could affect consumers and what the risks are if you have contracted food poisoning from this sort of incident.

Testing Positive

One hopes that when frequenting a huge chain shop that has its own tough regulations in order to make the best customer experience possible, that it would make for a safe environment to sit back and relax with a Frappuccino. Sadly, this is not the case.

Samples of iced drinks from Costa, Starbucks and Café Nero were tested by experts in the field and were found to be containing varying levels of excrement. 7 out of 10 samples from Costa ice were contaminated with the bacteria found in faeces, whereas 3 out of 10 samples tested positive from Starbucks and Café Nero.

The coffee chains have responded by saying they will take action. Costa has said it had updated its handling guidelines and was replacing all their ice storage equipment. Starbucks said that they were intending on having their own investigation into the claims and Café Nero also said they would be carrying out an exhaustive enquiry into the ice they use in-store.

E. Coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Oh My!

Recalls have been shown to be rising in the UK and most recently, Sainsbury’s recalled their sandwich fillers because of a risk of Listeria which can be a danger to the elderly, women who are pregnant and babies.

The coffee shops, sadly, did not realise the risk in their ice themselves. Customers have therefore unknowingly bought iced drinks in the recent hot weather only to find that they may have contained dangerous bacteria only ever found in excrement.

The most common infections likely to be experienced after the consumption of faeces are:

Each bacterial infection comes with its own risks. Usually people recover within two weeks, but a small number of people can develop more serious issues such as kidney failure and the need for antibiotics to fight off the infection.

The sad fact is that excrement is often found to be in food products where animals are kept. But it is more unusual to find it in water or ice as in this instance.

Dawn Rose comments:

This latest report of contamination of ice on a wide-scale is alarming.  It begs the question how have the ice cubes /ice machine become contaminated with faeces in the first place?

“Is personal hygiene being enforced with staff members to ensure they are washing their hands thoroughly after going to the toilet? Is regular and appropriate testing for contamination being conducted and if so how has the situation arisen?”

“Their investigation should include a company-wide review on how to protect customers from this in the future.”

It is worth considering the following advice if you begin to feel symptoms:

  1. Phone your GP or NHS helpline, 111, for advice
  2. Get a stool sample (you will need to get someone to collect a sterile pot for them from their GP / Health Centre) to take to your GP to be sent away for testing to diagnose the bacterial strain
  3. Report any suspicion of the source of food contamination /establishment to the local environmental health department of their local council

Written by Dawn Rose.

For more information on personal injury and the services offered by Simpson Millar, please call:

0808 129 3304

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