How To Keep Your Ice Clean To Prevent Foodborne Illness

Keeping food safe to help prevent illness is a mission that is important for everyone in the foodservice industry, from farmer to server. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 48 million people in the United States get sick from foodborne illnesses every year. That number climbs as you go around the world, which is why June 7th has been designated World Food Safety Day.

One food product that often gets overlooked for food safety is ice. The quality of ice is so important that the government considers ice a food product and regulates how it is packaged.

Here are some simple tips on how to deliver sanitary ice to your customers.

Wash Your Hands

hand washing

Ensuring that staff keeps their hands washed regularly is a critical part of food safety. Hands can contain various dirt and grime throughout the day and can even have traces of fecal matter, which causes foodborne illness. Every employee should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds every time they finish using the restroom, smoking, eating, handling food or taking out the garbage. Hands should always be washed before employees touch any food, including ice.

Keep Ice Storage Bins Sanitary

BIN_Gravity_Dispense_DEV700SG-30-75Ice storage bins should only be used to store ice. Never place food, glassware or other items inside the bin to keep them cold. This can cause cross-contamination. Per NSF requirements, bins should be sanitized a minimum of every six months. In your operations, bins may need to be sanitized more often than that. For example, yeast from baking bread on-site, can migrate into the bin and require frequent cleaning of the bin. Finally, even when good hygiene habits are kept by employees, hand contact with ice should be eliminated or minimized if at all possible. Follett has a wide variety of products that rely on gravity to dispense ice, rather than hand scooping and dedicated totes that don’t nest and aren’t used for other purposes, as well as carts with lids to keep ice from being contacted while in transit, that deliver ice safely and securely.

Consider Methods To Automatically Transport Ice

Eliminate the risk of human contact with ice by delivering the ice automatically to its end use point. This can be accomplished by stacking an ice machine directly on top of a dispenser, or by using Follett’s industry-exclusive RIDE technology to move ice up to 75’ away from the machine to the dispenser. While top mount ice machines do eliminate hand contact with ice, they make it difficult to access the dispense hopper for cleaning. With RIDE ice machines, the dispenser can be easily accessed for cleaning.

Look For Ice Machines With Sealed Evaporators

Virtually all cube ice machines have evaporators that are open to the air. The presence of air and water provide a breeding ground for biofilm to grow. Follett’s ice machine has a barrel-type evaporator. With the exception of a small vent hole, it’s not exposed to outside air. In any event, regular sanitizing of ice machines is important. Like ice storage bins, ice machines have a six-month required NSF sanitizing frequency, but based on the application, a more frequent schedule may be needed.

Follett has been dedicated to producing high-quality, innovative ice machines, dispensers, storage bins and storage systems since 1948. If you’re ready to improve the way you manage ice in your business, look no further!

Learn about Chewblet® ice, the small, crunchy nugget that keeps customers coming back for more.

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Topics: Bar & Nightclub, Beverage, Healthcare, Product of the Month, Restaurants