While many MN certified food managers take extensive time training their staff how to handle raw proteins, store product properly and always cook hot foods to the appropriate temperature, they often overlook a servable item that is handled in nearly every single food preparation facility. The ice from your ice machine ends up in guest’s drinks, cools your foods and is used to keep the items on your buffet lines chilled.
MN Certified Food Manager’s Guide to Overlooked Ice Machine Sanitation
In an effort to make sure that the ice used in your facility is free from any contamination, we have four simple tips to follow.
- No bare hand contact with ice
- Store your ice scoops in a sanitary location
- Only store ice in the ice machine
- Keep the area around your machine clean
The food code states that ready-to-eat foods must not come into contact with bare hands. Ice does in fact count as a ready-to-eat-food. Even if you are using an ice scoop, it’s important to wear vinyl gloves to prevent your hands from inadvertently coming into contact with the ice in your machine.
It’s never a good idea to leave your ice scoop on the dusty top of your machine or hanging on a hook on the wall. None of these places are sanitary, and if your ice scoop is stored in either of these locations, you’re increasing contamination risks each time you get ice from your machine.
Our third tip may puzzle some, but over the years we’ve been asked if it was ok to use the ice machine to keep canned beverages cold or to chill food product. The answer to these questions is no. It’s not to appropriate to use the ice machine to store anything except ice. Food product can spill and pose a food-safety issue and the exteriors of bottled and canned beverages are not sanitary and can increase contamination risk.
There can also be food safety dangers that can fester if the areas around your ice machine are not kept clean. Many insects thrive in warm, moist environments, and this is exactly what your ice machine provides. Drains and the floors under and around your machine must be kept clean and free of debris and the top of your machine should never be used to store dirty dishes or any food product.
Ice is just one of many overlooked food safety concerns in the food service industry. At Safe Food Training, we’d like to see that we cover every possible hazard in your kitchen. What are some of the things that you feel standard food code training tends to overlook?