In today’s fast-paced world, we often don’t stop to think that the meal we’re eating may be our last. It’s not a pleasant thought and it is easier to dismiss the notion as something that happens to other people in a far-off place. However, each year it is a reality for 5,200 Americans and their families. (Although we do not know the exact numbers in South Africa, there are published outbreaks which means we are not untouchable).
In this series of articles on cross contamination we learn practical ways of how to combat it. This final part gives us a sobering reminder of the dangers of ice.
It’s easy to forget about keeping ice safe among the rush of kitchen life, but ice has been linked to several foodborne outbreaks. It’s a common belief that the cold temperature of ice kills bacteria. However, bacteria in ice are “preserved“ until conditions are more favorable for growth. Viruses are another threat because cold does not affect them at all.
Often, the cause of illnesses linked to ice is handling ice with contaminated hands or utensils. Contaminants are then on the ice, which can be further spread to beverages or foods stored on ice, such as in salad bars.
A few simple practices can keep ice safe. First, use dedicated containers for transporting ice. Avoid using containers that also are used for storing food or chemicals. Hanging ice containers upside down keeps the containers dry and off the floor, and prevents nesting, a common way buckets become unclean.
Second, provide an ice scoop at each location where an employee dispenses ice. Train employees to store the scoop outside the ice bin and not in the ice. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, clean and sanitize every utensil used in ice and the ice machine regularly.
About the Author: Megan Bradley is a technical advisor and certified food safety professional for Daydots
This article is reproduced with permission from Food Quality & Safety