Starbucks’ iced coffee may have fecal bacteria in it — so do all these other things

A BBC investigation discovered fecal bacteria in samples of iced coffee in Starbucks. Starbucks said they are investigating these claims.
A BBC investigation discovered fecal bacteria in samples of iced coffee in Starbucks. Starbucks said they are investigating these claims. Creative Commons

Fecal bacteria may have crept into that iced coffee you just ordered, if you’re from the U.K .at least, according to an investigation by BBC.

The investigation found found that three out of 10 samples tested from Starbucks and Caffe Nero contained faecal coliforms, and seven out of 10 samples at Costa Coffee.

Tony Lewis, the head of policy at The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said he found the levels of the bacteria "concerning."

"These should not be present at any level - never mind the significant numbers found," he added.

However, iced coffee is far from the only thing disturbing amounts of fecal bacteria have been discovered in:

Coffee mugs

Not only is it the ice in the coffee itself you should be careful with, it may be the container itself. Charles Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at University of Arizona, told Men’s Health 20 percent of office mugs carry fecal bacteria along with other “colonies of germs.”

“That's because in an office, most people tend to clean their cups with bacteria-laden sponges or scrub brushes instead of in a dishwasher. That bacteria transfers to the mug and can live there for 3 days,” Gerba told Men’s Health.

Cell Phones

A study conducted in the UK took 780 swab samples — 390 from mobile phones and 390 from the hands that used the phones. The samples were taken from 12 different cities. In their findings, 16 percent of both hands and phones were contaminated with E. coli, which is common in fecal matter.

Scientists hypothesized that this is because people don’t wash their hands after they use the restroom, according to TIME.


According to Market Watch, airline customers should be wary of getting ice in their drinks, drinking coffee, tea and hot water.

A Reddit user claiming to be a flight attendant said the ice tray doesn’t get cleaned often. The user also said every surface of the plane is touched by hundreds of people daily and not disinfected.

“We don’t have the opportunity to wash our hands at all during the beverage service,” the user wrote.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that standards vary depending on time and class in airlines. However, airlines said they work with the Centers for Disease Control and prevention to prevent potential health concerns.

Water Parks

A Gizmodo report found that water parks are “cesspools” for dangerous bacteria.

Even though waterparks use chlorine to disinfect these pools, microbiologist Tara Smith told Gizmodo that chlorine doesn’t actually “clean” the water, even though it’s intended to kill common germs. There’s no guarantee a person won’t contract an illness or come in contact with urine, which, when mixed with chlorine, creates nasty byproducts that could lead to respiratory problems, according to Gizmodo.

"If [chlorine] is present and maintained at recommended levels (~1 part per million), it should kill most common pathogens," Smith told Gizmodo. "But it's not a cure-all and won't protect against some pathogens that are resistant to chlorine."

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