BBC ‘faecal bacteria’ findings prompt slew of ice advice

Ice

Following yesterday’s news that BBC’s Watchdog programme found bacteria from faeces in samples of iced drinks from Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Caffe Nero, ice machine manufacturers have been queuing up to give advice to operators.

Hubbard Systems, UK supplier of the Scotsman range of ice machines, says it’s about time the industry cracked down on the poor hygiene practices that lead to the issue.

“It’s not like we haven’t seen this before,” says Mark Stebbings, technical and aftercare manager. “Every year for as long as I can remember the issue comes up. And every year ice machine suppliers point out the simple measures that need to be taken to sort it out.”

He feels the do’s and don’t’s for clean ice are:

  • Keep hands clean – staff should always wash their hands before and during service.
  • Keep the machine clean – by following the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.  Make sure you empty, clean and sanitise the storage bin on a regular, weekly basis.
  • Don’t pick up ice with your hands – use a scoop. Consider using a Guardian scoop, which will further protect the ice
  • If your machine is fitted with an anti-bacterial system, change the anti-bac bag every month.
  • Have a maintenance schedule for the components that need regular cleaning: it will help keep your equipment in peak condition.

Competitor, Hoshizaki, believes the most common form of ice contamination occurs after the ice has been manufactured, commenting that dirty, unsanitised ice scoops or rarely cleaned ice buckets ‘leave much to be desired’.

The manufacturer stated: “The only potential sources of danger at the ice manufacturing stage are water and air. It is therefore imperative to protect against the harmful effects of both. The placement of an ice maker is vital – too often they are slotted into any available space, such as damp cellars or unventilated areas, where air quality is at its poorest and aero bacteria are most profound.

“Thorough day to day housekeeping, regular machine maintenance, and personal hygiene are the most important factors when it comes to preventing bacteria growth. Reputable manufacturers will have ensured that their machines are as refined as possible and that their dealers and distributors are well informed in the installation, care and servicing requirements necessary to maintaining the highest quality.”

Therefore Hoshizaki recommends the following:

Purchasing

  1. Select a machine with a tight fitting ice storage door, complete with a gasket or seal.
  2. Look for an ergonomically designed ice bin with rounded corners, and with all areas visible and accessible.
  3. 3. Look for a machine offering a rinse and flush cycle between each ice cycle, thus helping to eliminate water residues.

Maintenance

  1. Ensure all staff are aware of the dangers of contamination and understand how to prevent them.
  2. Empty the ice bin completely at least once every week to clean and sanitise with a proprietary cleaning fluid, and to rinse thoroughly.
  3. Ensure all objects in contact with the ice – such as scoops, tongs and buckets – are also clean.
  4. Move ice storage vessels away from customer reach.
  5. Make regular checks to ensure the machine is in good condition – especially the ice storage door.
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