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Ice scare prompts Starbucks Hong Kong to sterilise outlets

Starbucks Hong Kong sterilised a cafe where health inspectors discovered excessive coliform bacteria in ice and conducted follow-up health and safety training of relevant staff.

The government ordered the coffee giant to stop selling cold drinks with ice cubes at the chain’s Fashion Walk outlet in Causeway Bay after it was made aware of test results from an ice sample collected by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS). The sample contained 1200 colony-forming units per 100ml – 11 times more than the maximum acceptable level listed on the Microbiological Guidelines for Food for loose edible ice from retail outlets.

The CFS says the affected ice was from only that specific Starbucks location, which stopped selling iced drinks after the test.

A Starbucks Hong Kong spokesman said the store was “thoroughly cleaned and disinfected” after the discovery.

“We want to reassure our customers that we take hygiene and cleanliness extremely seriously. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers,” said the Starbucks spokesman.

The CFS confirmed the excessive bacteria levels indicated unsanitary conditions or poor hygiene practices, and that consuming the ice would not lead to food poisoning.

Starbucks Hong Kong immediately implemented training of relevant staff across its network, including reminding them of procedures for ice handling.

“We are cooperating fully and following up with the department.”

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