If you run a hotel, restaurant or pub, you may well be serving customers drinks with ice cubes in them. Or your retail business may utilise ice to display salads, fruit or fish.

What many people do not realise, however, is that ice is defined as food for the purposes of food safety legislation.

The relevant legislation is the Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 which cover anyone handling or selling food or cleaning equipment that is used for food preparation. As ice is defined as a food, you and your staff must produce, store and supply that ice in a hygienic manner. In particular you need to consider and remove any potential hygiene hazards and ensure safety controls are in place and regularly reviewed.

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) will consider how safe your handling of ice is in the same way they do any other food. Amongst their range of tests they may apply are:

• Testing for Total Viable Content. This is a means of testing any piece of equipment for bacteria, such as ice making machines, ice buckets and serving tongs.
• Testing for cleanliness. EHPs report that ice making machines are some of the most neglected pieces of machinery when it comes to cleaning and maintaining, so be particularly vigilant.
• Testing the water source. Ice should only be made from clean drinking water from your cold mains supply. There must be no possibility of contamination so using water from a tap which is also used for washing would be considered unsuitable.

They will also consider factors in the way ice is handled so tongs need to be clean and any staff directly handling ice will need to regularly wash their hands.

The overall message is to treat ice as carefully as you would any other food stuff and if you use equipment such as an ice maker ensure it is cleaned and maintained regularly.

TKR are specialists in refrigeration with over 35 years of experience. If you need help or advice regarding ice making machines why not give us a call on 01452 739483.