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That’s Gross: Are You Really Going To Drink That? Blog Feature

By: Dr. Jeff Bennert on June 1st, 2018

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That’s Gross: Are You Really Going To Drink That?

Ice Machines | Mold | Products

The food and beverage industry has a dirty little secret…and by dirty we mean gross. Ice contamination is a little known but widespread issue in the hospitality world. Luckily, there are many options for ensuring that your facility is serving customers with the cleanest and safest ice you can provide. In this article, we will discuss what dirty ice is and how easy and cost effective it can be to prevent.

What Is Dirty Ice and How Can It Affect Your Health?

It’s easy to overlook the risks associated with ice machines because we typically don’t think of ice as food given its lack of nutritional value. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, does define ice as food. Ice is handled by your staff and ingested by your customers, and it can spread illness just as easily as other food sources if contaminated by viruses, bacteria and mold. If your ice is contaminated, you won’t even know it until it’s too late. Your ice could look, smell and taste just fine, but it may still be harboring unhealthy microorganisms.


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How does ice contamination happen? Most often, it’s the result of poor ice machine maintenance and cleaning. The good news is that ice contamination is easily preventable.

Connect with a product specialist to discuss options for preventing ice contamination.

A study by the Daily Mail found that one in three food establishments are serving dirty ice. In a 2011 study of Las Vegas food establishments, more than 70 percent of ice samples tested positive for the presence of coliform bacteria. Given that these bacteria can and do cause serious illness, any ice contamination at all is unacceptable.

Preventing Ice Contamination

Keeping your ice machine sanitized and clean, as well as taking steps to properly handle ice are the two most important ways to prevent ice contamination.

Options for keeping your ice machine properly sanitized are:

Deep clean by hand at least twice a year.

Turn off the electrical supply, empty the bin, remove any protective cover, and inspect the drain. Clean all surfaces with hot water and detergent, including the cover, scoop, and interior surfaces. Make sure the door closes with the proper seal, to prevent dirt from entering the machine. Finally, turn the machine back on to ensure it is working properly.

Professional cleaning by a refrigeration specialist.

For a truly deep clean that you know you can trust, consider regular cleanings by a refrigeration specialist. These professionals will use commercial grade cleansers to sanitize the unit, and they are trained to make any adjustments to the unit that may be needed. Professional inspection is also necessary to inspect and clean the machine’s condenser coils. The cost of a professional cleaning is well worth the peace of mind you receive by having a clean, properly functioning unit.

Installing a sanitation system.

Consider a sanitation system to take care of the dirty work for you. A professional grade sanitation system will extend the life of your ice machine by preventing slime, mold, yeast, and other bacteria from accumulating. Cleaning cycles will be greatly reduced, saving both time and money. Bi-polar ice is quick to install, taking just 15 minutes to get up and running. It works with any commercial grade ice machine, and uses ozone-free technology for additional health and food safety.

Now let’s talk about proper ice handling

Here are practical and important tips that every member of your staff should take to keep ice clean and safe.

  • Packaged ice should be from a quality source such as a commercial ice factory. The manufacturer’s lot identification number (known as a “batch code”) should be visible on the package, so the ice can be identified in the event of a recall.
  • Hygienic making, storing, and handling of ice is key. Always use clean utensils, and wear gloves. If using an ice machine, ensure that the machine is clean, in good working order, and located inside the premises.
  • Ice utensils are as important as the machine itself. Scoops should be  cleaned and sanitized daily and stored outside of the machine -- ideally on a clean try made of stainless steel or another bacteria-resistant material.
  • Advise workers not to handle ice at all if they are ill.
  • Proper personal hygiene of ice handlers is also critical. Everyone should wash hands frequently with soap and water and avoid touching other materials, such as dirty dish-towels, that could contaminate the ice. Keep hands, nails, and clothing clean at all times, and do not smoke while handling ice.
  • Never use glass to scoop ice out of a machine, as it could break, contaminating the entire ice supply. Always use stainless steel or durable plastic scoops.
  • Be mindful to not allow ice to come in contact with other surfaces. Do not break up ice on countertops or other surfaces that have not been properly sanitized.
  • Any ice machine or ice storage container should have a well-fitting lid at all times to prevent contaminants from entering the ice supply.
  • Ice buckets should only be stored in an area free of dust and debris. It’s also important to use ice buckets for the sole purpose of holding ice.

Meet the Bi-Polar Ice - the quickest, most cost effective way to ensure clean ice

Now that we have covered the importance of maintaining clean ice-makers, ice receptacles, and ice itself, it’s time to share an easy and inexpensive solution to keep ice as clean and safe as can be.

Bi-Polar Ice is an award-winning, easily installed, and inexpensive system to the ensure safety and cleanliness of ice. This cleanliness is achieved without expensive, time-consuming maintenance.

In just fifteen minutes, Bi-Polar Ice uses state-of-the-art technology to prevent the spread of contaminants inside any ice machine. Not only will this protect your customers, but the reduction in slime, mold, and bacteria will keep the machine running smoothly with less wear and tear.

The patent-pending solution of Bi-Polar Ice uses an ionization process known as cold plasma, or bi-polar ionization. The ions produced deactivate them and prevent them from spreading. The neutralized contaminants are changed into harmless water vapor.

In one recent study, random samples of an unprotected ice machine tested positive for a multitude of bacteria. Within a week of installing Bi-Polar ice, the bacteria count was nearly zero. This happened without extensive and expensive professional cleaning.  All that was needed was the easy, 15-minute installation of the Bi-Polar ice system.

Key Takeaways

Bi-Polar Ice can help protect your business and your customers’  health because clean ice is an important aspect of serving safe food. After safety, cost effectiveness is at the heart of any business.With the state-of-the-art Bi-Polar Ice, businesses will not have to choose between cost-effectiveness and serving clean ice. You will have far fewer costly and time-consuming maintenance cycles.

Connect with a product specialist in just minutes to learn more about Bi-Polar Ice: Find a Distributor

Dirty ice isn't the only place you might come into contact with mold, bacteria, and viruses in your everyday life.


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