Few things are more refreshing that cold glass of iced tea, water or your favorite soft drink. But before those ice cubes clink against the inside of a glass, it is vitally important to consider where they’ve come from. When it comes to foodborne illnesses, ensuring that your steak is cooked thoroughly, the bread is fresh and there are no raw eggs or other ingredients being served, are all major priorities. However, an often overlooked and under serviced piece of equipment is your ice machine.
A study by the University of Texas proved that ice cubes can contain E.coli, salmonella and shigella, even after being submerged in soda, water or even liquor. A 2011 EPA study done on Las Vegas ice machines showed that 33.3% of the ice samples exceeded the EPA limits for heterotrophic concentration in drinking water. Furthermore a staggering 72.2% tested positive for a presumptive coliform bacteria presence.
With the potential for something so commonly consumed to be unsafe, here are a few tips on how to keep your ice machine clean and your ice safe.
- Keep food storage ice and beverage ice separated: Many restaurants use ice not only for their drinks, but also to control the temperature of food containers. Pathogens from food and their containers can make the ice unsafe to consume.
- Only use a designated scoop for ice: Never use hands, a glass or any other device that is used for other activities in the kitchen to remove ice. Ensure that the handle does not contact the ice and the scoop remains clean.
- Don’t keep the scoop inside of the machine: Your ice scoop should be kept out of the machine when not in use. It should also be covered and protected. A scoop that stays in an ice machine can lead to pathogens infiltrating the ice supply. Remember that the scoop and its compartment are considered food contact surfaces, and as such should be cleaned and maintained regularly.
- Clean and sanitize the ice machine on a regular basis: This is the most important step in protecting your restaurant’s ice supply. Keep the machine clean and safe. By design, ice machines are dark and wet environments. These conditions foster the growth of mold and bacteria. The machine itself is not the only thing element that requires maintenance. The piping and plumbing leading to the machine also requires regular attention.
When it comes to cleaning and sanitizing your ice machine, it is important to select the right cleansers. Safe and environmentally friendly products are necessary for this type of maintenance. Chemex Industries specializes in recommending and supplying the most effective and safest cleaning products for all types of industries. These products are perfect for keeping your ice machine clean, your ice safe and your patrons protected.
- Clean Ice: This ice machine cleaner is a non-fuming, non-foaming cleaner that removes lime scale and hard water deposits. This cleaner is USDA approved. Clean Ice will improve ice capacity and quality.
- Shiny Nickel: Nickel Guard is a non-foaming, non-fuming cleaner that quickly removes scale from stainless steel and nickel-plated steel. With Nickel Guard’s special inhibitors corrosion in minimized while scale is effectively cleaned from all surfaces. This product improves ice capacity and quality by removing built up lime scale that causes jamming.
- F-2002: F-2002 is a safe and powerful product that removes hard water scale, mildew, mold and many other build ups. This cleaner is an acid replacement product and is safe and effective on all surfaces.
- Predator: After applying Clean Ice, Shiny Nickel or F-2002, Predator can be used. Predator is a concentrated, no rinse, and food contact safe sanitizer. It eliminates 99.999% of salmonella, E.coli, and several other bacteria.
- Charge: Charge is a natural based citrus product that clears clogged drain lines. Its high pressure spray ensures quick penetration directly to the source of the problem.
- Pan-Gel: Pan-Gel is a uniquely designed tablet that clears drainage lines. With the ability to stay in place, it slowly releases its clog clearing gel with AT-8 to maintain clear lines.
After using any cleaning products on your ice machine, the plumbing and/or the drain, always dump the first load of ice that is produced. Keeping your ice machine, lines, scoop and compartments well maintained are critical for the sanitation of your restaurant and the health of your customers. Chemex Industries offers solutions for a wide variety of industrial cleaning needs.