What is growing inside your Ice Machine?
Contaminated ice is a health issue and is a frequent finding on health department food sanitation reports, yet commercial ice machines remain the least cared for food machines in a range of industries.
Can you remember the last time you cleaned your ice machine? Take off the cover and see for yourself what is growing inside, you are likely to find some fairly nasty bacteria infecting the ice you serve. Microbial growth spoils the tubing. Slime clogs the pump, screen and float switch. Scale hardens on the evaporator and water valves, deforming the ice cubes and causes your machine to work harder. Mould if no removed can destroy the housing, motor and electronics.
Ice Machines are Food Equipment
Many people forget that Ice machines are food equipment, they produce food and therefore require the same concerns for sanitation as any other food service equipment. Ice has many functions, it is a food or food ingredient it is commonly used in drinks both whole and crushed, it is used for cold food display, for chilling packaged food and drinks and is also used to rapidly chill cooked foods.
Therefore it is important that ice machines are cleaned regularly and to manufacturer standards in order to reduce contamination, contaminated ice has been associated with numerous foodborne disease outbreaks.
It is easy to overlook the risks associated with a lack of ice machine maintenance, but according to FDA regulations, ice needs to be stored and handled like food, and that means that ice machines need regular cleaning, at least 2 to 4 times a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Depending on your usage, the location of the machine and the water conditions, you may need to clean it more often.
For example, a very heavily used unit located near a cooking line inside a kitchen restaurant may need cleaning as often as every month.
Additional things to remember when handling your ice
Once your ice machines is clean and sanitised on a regular basis, there are guidelines that you should follow to ensure the prevention of contamination in between cleanings;
- Do not remove ice from the storage bin with your bare hands
- Do not return unused ice to the storage bin
- Keep the door or lid of the storage bin closed when ice is not being collected
- Ensure that you keep the ice scoop clean at all times
- Do not store your ice scoop in the ice bin
- Make sure that you use ice dedicated buckets for transport
- Do not store food, containers or other objects within the ice bin
- Change your water filters on a regular basis
- Consider periodically testing your ice and ice machine surfaces for the presence of contaminants
Don’t Let Just Anyone Clean your Ice Machine
It is important that you leave the cleaning of your ice machine to the experts. First of all you need to know what products to use for the type of ice machine you have. You also need to know how to disassemble the machine, meticulously clean all of the parts including the water line, and then put it all back together again.
Professional refrigeration service experts not only know all the ins and outs of your machine and the correct techniques to ensure that you ice is clean, but they also know how to inspect your machines for any problems and how to care for your machine in order to maximise its life span.
Including your ice machine in part of a refrigeration preventative maintenance plan will reduce costs while ensuring you are following laws and regulations.
For more information about our refrigeration maintenance plans give a member of our sales team a call today on 01254 277999.