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National Restaurant Association - Churn out sanitary ice at restaurants

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Churn out sanitary ice at restaurants

Ice may not be caloric or a line item on your restaurant menu, but it is consumed by your restaurant guests and comes with a variety of food safety challenges. To help you reduce contamination threats specific to this beverage element, ServSafe provides these best practices:

  • Remove ice with a designated scoop. When preparing drinks, never capture ice directly with bare hands or a glass. Instead, use a designated scoop and avoid letting any part of the handle touch the ice.
  • Store the scoop outside the ice supply. Laying an ice scoop inside an ice machine or an ice-filled bin can introduce pathogens. When the scoop is not being utilized, keep it covered and contained in an enclosed compartment. Both the scoop and the compartment are food-contact surfaces, so clean and sanitize them regularly, as you would tongs for drink garnishes or a cutting board.
  • Designate specific equipment for hauling ice. If you haul a large quantity of ice from one area of your restaurant to another – for example, from the back-of-house to the front-of-house – use foodsafe bins that are made specifically for this task. Never transport ice in a container that has been used to store chemicals or raw meat, seafood or poultry.
  • If glass breaks anywhere near an exposed ice supply, dispose of the ice. Glass can strongly resemble ice and cause serious injury to guests and staff. Immediately dispose of the potentially contaminated ice, and clean and sanitize the machine or bin that houses the ice.
  • Separate ice for drinks from ice used keep food cold. If your restaurant stores any food or beverage containers on ice for temperature control, ensure that staff knows that ice is not to be incorporated into drinks. Pathogens from the food or beverage containers can infiltrate the surrounding ice, which could potentially cause foodborne illness if then served to guests.
  • Clean and sanitize your ice machines regularly. Often moist and dark, ice machines can collect dirt and foster mold; if a health inspector finds either in your machine, a violation will likely be issued to you. Because the machines are considered food-contact surfaces, clean and sanitize them regularly. Commission a licensed plumbing professional to service piping leading into the machine as well as the machine’s drain; failing to do so can lead to harmful backflow.

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