Scientists found ‘faecal matter’ on tables in Costa Coffee - these were the dirtiest branches

Trace amounts of “faecal matter” have been found on tables at branches of Costa Coffee in the UK, according to a Channel 4 investigation.

What happened?

A team of scientists was sent around the UK for the programme, to test more than 170 surfaces throughout six towns and cities. The aim was to find out how clean big brands are keeping their stores in light of the pandemic.

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After wiping a number of surfaces down in several Costa branches, scientists sent the samples off to be analysed, and found that samples from the Cardiff and Birmingham branches contained faecal coliforms.

Swabs were taken from tables, chairs, side plates, trays and toilet door handles inside Costa branches.

An Edinburgh branch of the coffee chain showed high levels of bacteria on surfaces which were supposed to be clean, though these were not thought to be faecal matter.

The investigation was part of Channel 4’s Dispatches: How Safe Is It Going Out?, which aired on Monday (26 Oct) night.

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A spokesperson for Costa Coffee said, “The safety of our store teams and customers is our number one priority and we were pleased to learn that no evidence of coronavirus, or indeed any other viruses, was found in any of our stores.

“In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we have enhanced our hygiene measures in line with Government guidelines and are confident we have the right policies and procedures in place to keep customers safe.

“We have re-communicated our cleaning procedures to all our stores and spoken directly to those stores featured in this programme.”

What else did the scientists find?

Despite government guidance to regularly clean surfaces in public settings in order to limit the indirect transmission of Covid, the investigation found that many public surfaces were far from clean.

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Scientists also took samples from the bell, handrail and seats of London buses, as well as the trolley handles in six different branches of Tesco.

The results suggested an inconsistent cleaning policy, with different trolleys in the same car park showing very different levels of cleanliness.