Maintaining food products like meat, produce, and seafood cold on ice helps to maintain their freshness and prevent dangerous bacteria from endangering consumers. What some consumers and companies do not realize is that ice is considered itself a food, and it must be treated as carefully as food. Utilizing high quality and safe ice is critical to keeping your products safe. At Semco, we manufacture and install industrial cooling systems like ice makers to help maintain food safety and freshness. This article with outline three tips for safely displaying consumable iced products.
Tip #1: Make Sure That The Water Going Into Your Ice Machine is Clean
The quality and safety of your ice is as good as the input water used in the process. If you would not drink directly from the input line to your ice machine, redesign your process to properly filter or clean water. When you are not sure if your water is clean, send some of the water to a laboratory company to test it for pathogens or chemicals. Consider setting up a regular process to test for water quality so that you will be alerted if there is an issue in your process.
Also, consider utilizing an in-line filter to make sure that the water going into your ice machine is clean. Although others might consider extra controls excessive, you can have the peace of mind knowing that your process will be safe even if the water company sends contaminated water.
Tip #2: Clean Out the Ice Machines and Bins Regularly
Your ice machine and bins should be frequently cleaned according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Whether you have a new or older Semco system, feel free to contact us at Semco to review recommendations for unit cleaning. This protocol should outline the cleaning steps, the frequency, the tools and how to verify that cleaning is effective. Including pictures and easily accessible equipment will help you or employees complete the process. Additionally, verifying completeness of cleaning with a checklist will help you to show regulatory officials that you completed the task correctly each time.
Here is a sample list of steps for cleaning an ice machine:
- Shut down and lock out the ice machine so that it will not activate during cleaning.
- Clean and shine the outside surface of the machine.
- Remove any residual ice in the machine.
- Clean the inside of the machine using a suitable chemical approved for cleaning food contact machines.
- Carefully clean the inside of the door and the gaskets with the approved sanitizer.
- Rinse thoroughly to remove sanitizer chemical.
- Check and service in-line water filter if needed.
Tip #3: Create Sound Systems For Safely Handling Ice
Any ice used to cool produce must be treated as a food, even if the ice is not directly consumed. The ice will come in contact with the food and thus must not contaminate it. Even if you have a clean machine to produce ice, the following guidelines can help you and your employees maintain safe ice utilization.
- Before handling ice, wash hands completely with soap and warm water.
- Utilize clean hands or clean gloves before removing ice. Remember that dirty gloves are just as bad as dirty hands.
- Ice bins used to transport ice must be clean whenever used and should never be placed on the ground.
- Utilize clean and undamaged scopes for ice.
Taking the time to create and utilize procedures that keep your ice clean will help protect your customers from food-related illness. Remember that consistent practice of the right procedures will make food safety simple.