Fecal bacteria has been found in the drinks or ice of McDonald's, Burger King and KFC restaurants in the United Kingdom, CNBC reports. The BBC consumer television program "Watchdog," tested samples from 10 locations of each chain, many which were found to contain traces of fecal coliform, a disease-carrying bacteria.
Coliforms were found in three samples from McDonald's, in six from Burger King and in seven from KFC. Four from the latter two stores, Burger King and KFC, were said by investigators to have contained "significant" levels of the bacteria.
All three chains were quick to offer up responses to the study. Burger King said in a media response:
"Cleanliness and hygiene are a top priority for the Burger King brand. The strict procedures we have in place are designed to ensure all guests have a positive experience each time they visit our restaurant."
KFC, in a release, said
"We are shocked and extremely disappointed by these results. We have strict procedures for the management and handling of ice, including daily and weekly inspections and cleaning of the ice machine and storage holds, as well as the routine testing of ice quality across our business."
A McDonald's spokesperson told CNBC,
"We have robust procedures in place with regard to the production, storage and handling of ice in our U.K. restaurants. Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and people and we will continue to review our procedures and training, working closely with our restaurant teams to ensure those procedures are adhered to at all times."
McDonald's went so far as to draft the aid of Tom Humphrey, a professor of bacteriology and food safety, to say, "It is pleasing that Escherichia coli (E. coli), the bacterium that is the most accurate and reliable indicator of fecal contamination, was not found in any ice samples from McDonald's restaurants.
"Low levels of two other indicator bacteria, coliforms and enterococci, were found in some ice samples," Humphrey continued. "These can be used as an assessment of water hygiene but, as they are widely distributed in the natural environment, they are not reliable indicators of potential health risks."
Still, "at least it wasn't E. Coli" doesn't seem as the strongest endorsement.