A hefty 40% of foodservice operators admit they don’t know how often they do – or how often they should – clean their ice machines despite a number of high profile scandals around ice hygiene.
The research, undertaken by ice machine manufacturer Ice-O-Matic, suggests a “surprisingly high” number of operators did not clean their ice machines regularly as per manufacturers’ recommendations.
Adam Lenton, marketing manager for Ice-O-Matic UK, said: “The majority of operators are diligent around the cleanliness and quality of their ice but the fact remains that a worrying number of caterers did not clean their machines as often as they should and had limited knowledge around what is acceptable or what the manufacturer recommendations actually are.”
Mr Lenton said that poor levels of hygiene in ice can affect consumers as badly as those from poor food hygiene practices. “Proper and regular cleaning is vital,” he added.
Last year a BBC investigation found high levels of bacteria in ice served by three top cinema chains, while Costa, Starbucks, Caffe Nero and KFC have all previously found themselves at the centre of headlines around ice hygiene.
Ice-O-Matic’s research also went onto find that around a third of consumers have concerns when it comes to the levels of bacteria that may be present in the ice they get served when dining and drinking out, with over 30% saying it put them off having ice altogether.
Lenton added: “Some consumers do not like ice period. We know that some have sensitive teeth, others who feel that ice dilutes the drink. But, let’s not forget that around 70% of those asked, want to be served ice and love the refreshing impact it gives them.”
He said manufacturers could help operators keep on top of the issue, pointing to the 03-Matic (Ozone) device on its systems, which infuses ozone into incoming water, killing microbes on every surface it touches.