Defecated Coffee

29 June 2017 | Pic PR

Our intern Rose takes a look at some seriously cr*p PR for three of the leading coffee shop brands...

Thought nothing could top the 2013 horsemeat scandal? Well, you might want to think again.

Caffe Nero, Starbucks and Costa Coffee have faced some embarrassingly bad PR this week after an undercover investigation revealed that samples of their iced water contained faecal bacteria.

The BBC Watchdog investigation discovered that iced water obtained from the high-street outlets all contained faecal coliform bacteria. A positive test was found for 7/10 samples from Costa and 3/10 from the other two chains.

Rob Kingsley, an expert in food-borne pathogens has claimed that the findings are extremely concerning: “Coliforms are an indicator of faecal contamination which means that essentially anything which is in faeces could be in that ice. It is an indicator that somewhere there has been some kind of breakdown in hygiene or the source of water used for this ice.”

The ice is indeed likely to have been contaminated by being touched with unclean hands. The situation may have been exacerbated by ice machines and buckets that have not been properly cleaned.

This revelation has proven to be a nasty shock for people who indulged in the refreshing iced drinks during the recent heatwave, especially considering that the bacteria found are opportunistic pathogens that pose a genuine threat to human health.

As three major chains have been blasted in the findings of this investigation, this may lead customers to worry about the hygiene standards of coffee shops in general. Being accused of poor hygiene would be hard for the average person to come back from, let alone a major brand. Costa, the worst offender, has tried to minimise the damage with the following statement:

“We were disappointed with the findings, especially as these stores are all rated ‘Very Good’ with a top Hygiene Rating of 5.

It is extremely important to us that all our stores operate to high standards of hygiene at all times and we take it very seriously when any store fails to meet these standards.”

Unfortunately for Costa, there might be too much ice under the bridge at this point. Unconsciously or not, people are likely to give coffee a wide berth after reading the damning press coverage surrounding these investigations.