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21st Nov 2018

Faecal bacteria found in Wetherspoon drinks, investigation finds

Jean-Emile Jammine

Your favourite pubs could be serving you poo

An investigation conducted last month by BBC’s Watchdog Live has found traces of faecal bacteria in the ice and soda of five of the UK’s leading pub chains.

The coliform bacteria (usually associated with being found in the gut) reached levels apparently “too high to count” in all five watering-holes. A “Swab Mob” from the BBC visited over 50 pubs in the undercover sting – 10 each of Slug & Lettuce, JD Weatherspoon, Marston’s Two for One, Hungry Horse & Harvester.

The Slug & Lettuce responded to Watchdog: “Slug & Lettuce takes hygiene standards extremely seriously…We immediately investigated the claims made by Watchdog, commissioned audits, and reiterated our processes to all sites. We would like to reassure our customers of the strict procedures and high standards expected in our bars.”

Weatherspoon’s was quick to point out their bespoke, colour coded handling system for ice transfer but stated they would, “Take on board the findings in the report.”

Hungry Horse meanwhile told the show they were extremely disappointed, “Especially as nine of the ten pubs visited have the highest 5 star hygiene rating.” The chain reassured customers that they have ensured, “All ice equipment and soda dispensers across the Hungry Horse estate have been deep cleaned…and team members have also received updated training on our high standards of hygiene.”

Harvester however, refused to comment, disputing the science used by Watchdog in their findings.

Tony Lewis from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has claimed that the bacteria was likely to come from human contact like dirty hands.

“Ice is like any other food,” said Lewis. “We consume it, we ingest it, it goes into our stomachs, into our guts, and if it’s loaded up with the wrong type of bacteria then it can make us ill.

“So that’s why this is a concern. On the basis of the chains that we’ve looked at, industry needs to do better, making sure that their cleanliness is being well managed.”

Watchdog Live presenter Nikki Fox, said: “These results are really disappointing. I don’t think most people would expect this type of bacteria to be present in things we’re actually consuming – and certainly not in some of the biggest names in the business.”

The full investigation will be aired tonight on BBC Watchdog Live, at 8pm on BBC One.