Hygiene Food Safety
Newsletter June 2019

This month we take a look at the safety of ice and ice machines.

Can You Get Sick From Contaminated Ice?

Recent reports released by ice machine manufacturer Ice-O-Matic showed that almost 40% of operators acknowledge that they were unaware of how often the ice-machine and especially the water filters needed to be cleaned. This showed that this area is often a neglected place. Not only this but also that operators were unaware that bacteria were able to survive in ice.

Can Bacteria Really Live in Ice?

Simply put, yes, bacteria that can cause serious harm to humans are able to survive in ice cubes. Common misconceptions are that ice is too cold to harbour bacteria.

Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes are even able to survive in ice-cream, as was the case in an ongoing outbreak in the US involving blue bell ice-cream. 

Unwelcome cases of cholera, Salmonella, E.coli, and Norovirus plus many other illnesses could occur from ingesting dirty ice.

The possible presence of bacteria is why regular cleaning of ice machines is essential.

How Often Should an Ice Machine Be Cleaned?
Businesses may start out with good intentions but they can easily fall by the wayside with regards to cleaning and maintenance once things get busy or at the end of long service.

There’s varying advice on the frequency that a commercial ice machine should be cleaned. This does depend on the frequency of use and water condition in each circumstance.

Manufacturers do recommend cleaning on a quarterly basis. However, this is what is called the deep clean.

Weekly cleaning by the staff of the visible interior should take place when the machine is empty.

Remember that it’s not just about waging war against bacteria but also eliminating any build-up of harmful slime or mould that naturally occurs when air is drawn into the equipment during operation.

Never wait for negative signals such as soft, malformed, cloudy cubes or a distinct aroma before cleaning. If any of these occur it will generally mean cleaning is already overdue. Stick to a strict timetable to remain proactive rather than reactive.

What About The Ice-scoop?

Preventing contamination from outside the machine is also an important consideration. A suitable dedicated ice-scoop should be kept in a mild-sanitiser (never chlorine-based) or at the very least away from potential cross-contamination. This means one should never leave the scoop in the ice.

Your hands should never come into contact with the ice, especially if not clean. There is always a high-risk of glass being broken into the machine, and due to the translucency, you would never to able to see it. Therefore plates, bowls and glass should never be uses to scoop ice.

Catch up on our article on hygiene risks in the bar here. 

How to Clean an Ice Machine

How to clean the ice machine 

Manufacturers always include cleaning instructions and recommendations with every piece of equipment, highlighting the importance of keeping ice makers clean.

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What Find Out More ABout Us

Hygiene Food Safety formed out of several years of food safety consulting in the food industry. We focus on helping chefs, managers and staff by creating awareness, understanding and implementation of a hygiene and food safety system.

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The Science Behind the Listeriosis Outbreak

Faeces from people or animals is common source of bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli O157, and norovirus that cause diarrhoea. These kinds of bacteria and viruses can get onto hands after using the toilet or in less obvious ways, like after handling raw meats that have invisible, high amounts of animal faeces. 

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Need Food Safety Training? Check out our book on "Food Safety For The Kitchen" on This book covers the Bacteria Basics, The Food Safety Pillars and a bonus chapter on the Listeriosis Outbreak in South Africa. Known as as the largest Outbreak in Recorded History. 
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