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Ice Machines and Food Safety

Ice isn’t often considered when talking about food borne illness. It’s easy to overlook the risks since we don’t tend to think of ice as food. However, ice is considered a food by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If contaminated, ice can spread illness just as easily as other food sources.  

How does ice contamination happen?

Smart Care Ice machine

Ice can often be contaminated by a dirty ice bin, unsafe ice handling, airborne contaminants such as dirt and dust, and the water used to make the ice. More often than not, ice contamination is a result of poor ice machine cleaning and maintenance.

To make matters worse, the cool, moist environment of a commercial ice machine preserves germs and bacteria and allows them to reproduce. When this bacteria grows and develops into large amounts of buildup, often referred to as biofilm, it can pose a serious health hazard.

The bottom line? Safe ice requires a clean ice machine. Here are a few tips to keep your commercial ice machine clean and free from contaminants.

Keep doors closed: Always keep the ice bin door closed, except when scooping ice, to prevent any dirt or dust from making its way inside the ice machine.

Smart Care Ice with scoop

Always use clean ice scoops: Be sure to wash and sanitize ice scoops or tongs daily and store them in a sanitary location. Never use a glass or your hands to scoop ice.

Change the filter: In addition to improving clarity and taste of ice, water filtration can mitigate scale and bacterial growth in an ice machine. If your water filter isn’t changed at least twice a year, you’re increasing the risk of food safety issues and breakdowns of your ice machine.

Inspect your ice machine daily: Inspect the exterior of your ice machine to ensure the door, handle, and hatch of the ice machine are clean and functioning properly. Look inside the machine for any signs of slime or biofilm. If you see pink or black spots, it’s time for a cleaning.

Smart Care Ice maintenance

Increase cleaning frequency: Ice machines should be cleaned and sanitized at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer, which is typically at least 2 to 4 times per year.

Ice machine cleaning and maintenance is best handled by a professional. In order to thoroughly clean the ice machine, you will need to know how to disassemble it, clean all parts (including the water line), and put it back together. A professional service technician will also inspect your ice machine to ensure it is operating efficiently to maximize its lifespan. 

Ice safety, like food safety, should be a priority for your foodservice operations. Smart Care understands the importance of keeping your commercial kitchen safe and ready to serve. Find a Smart Care provider near you for commercial ice machine service you can trust.