One summer spent selling tickets at a cinema chain was enough to put me off their snacks for life. Extravagant prices aside, a couple of months watching the same glistening frankfurters sweating on a grill for eight hours straight or staff snacking out of open nacho bags before tipping them into those little plastic trays was more than enough.
Which is why I was probably less shocked than most at the findings of Watchdog Live (BBC1, 9 May, 8pm) as they took their ‘swab mob’ to 30 branches of the three biggest chains - Cineworld, Odeon and Vue.
The ‘mob’ found issues at all three, but Odeon came out worst. Listeria was found in one of its cup holders, 10,000 times the acceptable levels of bacteria were floating in its ice cubes, and most worryingly of all, salmonella was present in two of its fizzy drinks. Brits planning a trip to the movies this weekend will no doubt be considering a strategic smuggle of sweets and soft drinks from the local newsagent instead.
More confident customers could always march right up to staff and complain if they spot specks of dirt floating in their overpriced pick ‘n’ mix. But they might want to take the advice of Maître d’First Dates Fred Sirieix first. He was given a 10-minute slot to advise on the art of the complaint.
Be specific, tell staff how their incompetence made you feel but absolutely never get personal, he advised. Though if you’ve spent the past week crouched over a bowl because of salmonella caught off a £5 Coca-Cola, that type of calmness might be easier said than done.