It has been a treacherous winter with snow and ice outdoors – but ice problems can continue inside your restaurant all year long and may cause damage on your next health inspection. Consider the following key points about ICE…
First of all, ice is considered food if being utilized for drinking. Therefore, make sure to regularly clean the ice machine, paying special attention to all interior surfaces, including the ceiling. Mold and slime can quickly build up in this dark, moist environment. Inspect with a flashlight and alcohol swab on a weekly basis, and make sure to remove all ice prior to cleaning. There are commercially available Ice-Wands that can be purchased and installed in the water tray to help reduce this problem.
Secondly, please make sure that drinking ice is stored in a clean ice bin in the bar area. The ice must be protected from cross-contamination with either a hard cover or saran wrap when not in service. Keep all utensils, glasses, and beverages out of the drinking ice bin. Scoop handles must not come in contact with drinking ice. Additionally, cold plate tubing must be inspected for slime build-up and cleaned regularly.
Lastly, when using ice to keep food items at proper temperature in cold-holding units, make sure there is enough ice for containers to be stored “in,” rather than “on top,” of the ice. Further, consider placing ice in food-grade ziplock bags, to place on top of food in low-boys or cold holding units near cooking stations.
Remember, when taken care of properly, ice will serve you well – keeping your restaurant and patrons safe and satisfied.
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By Romel Balchan, City Food Inspections, LLC.
City Food Inspections is an independent firm that specializes in restaurant health code inspections. Our staff is comprised of former health inspectors who have years of experience in the restaurant industry. We identify areas of concern and assist our clients in attaining a high level of consistency in the daily operations of their establishment. www.cityfoodinspections.com