Ice Machine Trouble

What Lurks in Your Ice Machines?

dirty ice

Hot days and warm drinks need one thing — ice. Keeping up with ice demand, whether in a healthcare facility, restaurant, or other commercial application, can be a challenge for any establishment owner, especially on those hot days. Calwest understands that you bought the best ice maker out there, plugged it in, and it hasn’t let you down yet. But, when was the last time you cleaned the machine? In my last blog we discussed the importance of preventive maintenance in heating and cooling equipment. Those same rules apply to the ice maker in your facility. The stakes, however are much higher than increased cost and burned out equipment. In fact, not cleaning an ice machine could mean life or death. In a 2018 study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), U.S. National Library of Medicine, researchers discovered that contaminated ice machines have been linked directly to the transmission of pathogens in healthcare facilities. The study combined a culture survey from five hospitals, and two nursing homes in northeastern Ohio, along with a simulation study. The samples from the 64 ice machines that were cultured revealed that gram-negative bacilli and/or Candida spp were found in 100 percent to the drain pains, 52 percent of ice and/or water chutes, and 72 percent of drain pan grilles. The final word from the researchers was that interventions were necessary to reduce the risk of pathogens spreading from ice machines and their components. Restaurants, commercial facilities, and the ice makers in the home are no exception to the potential contamination from bacteria like E.coli, norovirus, shillelagh, and salmonella. That’s right, salmonella. You wouldn’t let your customers lick raw chicken, so what are you going to do about the ice machines you currently own? First I would suggest that you keep the top on the ice machine or bin closed. One of the primary bacteria carriers found in our environment is dust. When it falls into an ice bin or any section of the ice maker, there is potential for that dust to spread and contaminate the entire system with the bacteria it is carrying. Second, it is imperative that both the inside and the outside of the ice maker be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. A complete cleaning should be done on a regular basis and the ice machine should be disassembled by a professional and cleaned as well. Not only will this deep cleaning protect your customers from germs and potential diseases, but it will also remove any mold, lime scale, or other undesired substances from the machine and its products. This will protect you, your business, and your customers. If you aren’t sure what to do or where to begin, call us. We know ice machines inside and out and we can help protect you and your customers from what lurks within. According to the Food and Drug Administration ice is classed as food. With this classification, ice machine cleaning becomes mandatory. The FDA stipulates that ice machine owners follow manufacturer recommendations for each brand and model. This equates on average to having them cleaned between 2-4 times per year. You wouldn’t serve dirty chicken, even if it was cooked — so don’t serve dirty ice.

AJ Milbes | Aug. 1, 2019, 7:20 p.m.