ANOTHER BLOG ENTRY ON ICE MACHINES?……YES!

by Casey Saenz, Environmental Health Specialist 3

I was conducting a routine inspection at a bar in my area this week, and I had to do a double take when I glanced inside this facility’s ice machine.  The gallery above will give you a good idea of what I saw!

There are a couple of colors that I have never seen before in an ice machine.  Just to give a quick summary:  “Yikes!”  Those are some scary pictures. 

Please be sure to check the inside and outside of your ice machine on a routine basis.  I check the ice machine during inspections by using the camera on my phone.  I push the reverse symbol to flip the view and put the camera towards the top of the inside (avoiding contact with ice).  Sometimes, I have to scoop out some of the ice to get enough clearance to view the top of the machine’s interior.

If you see that your ice machine needs cleaning, be sure to drain it, take it apart, and clean it as applicable.  It’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your ice machine.  If you can’t find the manufacturer’s instructions, they are most likely free online if you do a Google search using the make and/or model of the machine.  There are also ice machine cleaning companies that will do this for you. 

This was a violation under 4-2B, Food Contact Surfaces and Utensils – Cleaning Frequency.  Per Cobb County Code: Equipment food-contact surfaces and utensils shall be cleaned: In equipment such as ice bins and beverage dispensing nozzles and enclosed components of equipment such as ice makers, cooking oil storage tanks and distribution lines, beverage and syrup dispensing lines or tubes, coffee bean grinders, and water vending equipment:

(I) At a frequency specified by the manufacturer; or

(II) Absent manufacturer specifications, at a frequency necessary to preclude accumulation of soil or mold.

I am glad that I was able to catch this because now it has been brought to the manager’s attention and, hopefully, has prevented illness from occurring.

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Taking Ice for Granted

Reminders from Karen Gulley, Food Program Manager

In food service establishments, ice may be used for such purposes as keeping food cold, making drinks cool and refreshing, and as an ingredient—among other things.  Microorganisms may be found in ice, ice-storage chests, and ice-producing machines.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these microorganisms get into the ice mainly as a result of transfer from a person’s hands or due to the potable (drinking) water source used.  Examples of microorganisms that cause human infection from ice include Legionella from potable water, Norovirus and Cryptosporidium from water containing fecal contamination, and Salmonella transferred from a person’s hands.

Thus, importance should be placed on keeping ice protected from contamination in the food service establishments by ensuring good handling practices which includes effective handwashing, using and properly storing a clean, impervious scoop with a handle, and not allowing bare hand contact with ice used for consumption.  Another big area of emphasis should be the cleaning and maintenance of ice machines.

During food service inspections, ice machines and ice storage units and dispensers are often marked as being out of compliance.  As shown in these “before and after” pictures provided courtesy of WeCleanIce.com, the cleaning of the inside of ice machines is warranted but often overlooked when scheduling times for the thorough cleaning of equipment.  Manufacturers of ice machines usually provide instructions for their cleaning, however, if instructions are not available, check out the guidance provided by the CDC on page 80 of their Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities.  Other helpful information regarding the importance of keeping ice safe is provided in the document as well.