Spanish authorities have seized ingredients hidden in sewers and trash bins that were used to make mojitos at a tourist hot spot.

La Guardia Civil carried out controls on beaches of the Barcelona coast in recent weeks and identified 18 people involved with making and selling the alcoholic cocktail. The drinks were made with ingredients that may not be suitable for consumption as some were found to contain the E. coli bacteria – the serotype was not disclosed.

Seized items, including ice, mint leaves, watermelon, fruit juice, cups and green powders of unknown composition and origin that were put in the drink, have been analyzed in a department of the Guardia Civil.

The operation involved inspections to verify the hygiene and sanitation of street vendors selling mojitos because of a possibility that the health of consumers, especially tourists, could be at risk. Controls were carried out mostly in the neighborhood of Barceloneta, the beach and its surroundings.

Investigators found sale of the drink was by individuals not belonging to any commercial catering company subject to regulations and potential customers were users of the beaches. The action was prompted due to increased risk in the summer months and knowledge of the existence of unauthorized points of sale of mojitos on certain beaches of the Barcelona coast.

Inspections discovered material and ingredients for the drinks were kept in nearby garbage and sewage containers, so did not meet hygienic or sanitary storage requirements and posed a risk of contamination for the public. They were stored in plastic bags and open cans without labeling.

The 18 people identified by authorities as sellers face administrative action due to a lack of licenses and permits from the local authority. Police proceedings for crimes against public health are also under investigation.

Members of the Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA), of the Guardia Civil of Barcelona and the beaches unit of the Guardia Urbana of Barcelona were involved in the investigation.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)