Ice machine contamination
Ice machines can become contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. This can happen in three main ways:
Contamination from the water supply:
The water supply that feeds the ice machine can be contaminated if the water is not properly treated or if there is a break in the water line. For example, in 2018, an outbreak of norovirus was linked to ice machines at a number of restaurants in Scotland. The outbreak sickened over 100 people.
Contamination from the ice machine itself:
The ice machine can become contaminated if it is not properly cleaned and maintained. This can happen if the ice machine is not regularly defrosted, if the water reservoir is not cleaned, or if the ice storage bin is not properly sanitised. For example, in 2019, an outbreak of salmonella was linked to ice machines at a hospital in London. The outbreak sickened over 50 people.
Contamination from human contact:
Ice machines can be contaminated by human hands if they are not properly cleaned after use. This can happen if people touch the ice machine with their bare hands, if they use the ice machine to cool food or drinks, or if they store dirty utensils in the ice storage bin. For example, in 2020, an outbreak of E. coli was linked to ice machines at a university in Manchester. The outbreak sickened over 20 people.
To prevent ice machine contamination, it is important to:
Use a clean water supply.
Clean and maintain the ice machine regularly.
Inspect the ice machine for signs of contamination.
Wash your hands thoroughly before and after using the ice machine.
Do not store dirty utensils in the ice storage bin.
By following these simple steps, you can help to prevent foodborne illness from ice machines.
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