An undercover investigation by the BBC’s Watchdog programme revealed that ice served at 10 randomly selected branches of McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King all contained faecal coliform bacteria.
The disturbing findings, being broadcast on BBC One tonight come only three weeks after the programme revealed “significant levels” of faecal bacteria in iced drinks in three major coffee chains.
Government guidelines insist such bacteria should never be present in water for human consumption. Watchdog found evidence in three out of 10 branches of McDonald’s, in six at Burger King and seven at KFC.
Tony Lewis, head of policy and education at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said the findings were concerning.
“It’s extremely worrying,” he said. “When we’re finding the sorts of numbers we’re finding here, you have to look at the people making the ice, handling the ice, which they then transfer into customers’ drinks.
“And then you also have to look at hygiene failure with potentially the machines themselves: are they being kept clean?”
Responding to the investigation, all the fast food chains said they were carrying out an investigation into how the contamination had occurred.
A KFC spokesperson said: “We are shocked and extremely disappointed by these results. To reassure customers we have inspected and cleaned the ice machines in all restaurants across the UK.”
McDonalds said: “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.”
A Burger King spokesperson added: “This report is an opportunity for us to emphasise our training procedures and ensure all operations and safety standards are upheld in all Burger King restaurants.”
Watchdog airs tonight on BBC One at 8pm.