Customers at a branch of Starbucks are fuming after finding out their drinks were made from toilet water. Baristas at the coffee shop in Hong Kong have been brewing up cappuccinos and mochas using water from a grotty gents since the store opened – two years ago.
According to reports, the city centre Starbucks was built without a water supply. Instead staff have been forced to make regular runs to a nearby multi-storey car park, where they filled up huge vats from a tap that’s just feet from a urinal. The water was apparently filtered before it was used to make drinks – but experts insist harmful germs could still have found their way into customers’ drinks.
Professor Ben Cowling from the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, told HK Magazine filtration would only kill some bacteria. He added, “If the staff need to frequently visit the toilet, they may increase the risk of bringing other pathogens from the washroom into their food and drink preparation area”.
The truth was uncovered when a staff was filmed making one of 70 daily trips to the toilet to stock up on water supplies. Footage was posted on website Apple Daily, angering regular customers – who have logged onto Starbucks’ Hong Kong Facebook page to register their disgust.
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The firm has since replied with an apology, writing on its page:
Please kindly accept our apologies for the concerns raised by the coverage on the water source at the Bank of China Tower store. While the water used at that store was drinking water and certified as safe, we would like to clarify any misperceptions, as quality and safety have always been our top priority. We are now using distilled water to serve that store while we work with all parties on acceptable options.
According to reports, managers at the branch have been visited by inspectors from Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department – who have issued them with a formal warning.