Although ice may seem like a trivial part of the food industry, almost everyone consumes it and the FDA actually considers ice a food!
Keeping your commercial ice machine mold-free means doing the following:
PRACTICE REGULAR ICE MACHINE MAINTENANCE
It is easy to overlook the importance of commercial ice machine maintenance due to the fact that ice machines don’t interact with standard food products or organic materials that can begin to go bad and rot. In reality, it’s very important to practice regular maintenance and cleaning procedures for your ice machine to ensure that it continues working efficiently. Ice machines are in almost every establishment from restaurants to schools so taking proper care of them is vital. When it comes to neglected ice machines, hard water buildup can leave minerals or sediment in your ice cubes or flakes that could eventually be visible to customers. In addition, rust, lime scale, and even mold can accumulate in your ice machine and can be dangerous to your customers’ health. Not only are these problems unhygienic but they can also make it difficult for your machine to create ice, causing the eventual break down of your appliance leading to expensive repairs. Fortunately, it is relatively simple and easy to keep your ice machine clean and free of problems.
Understand When Your Ice Machine Needs Cleaning
Commercial ice machines should be cleaned every three to six months. You can also monitor the quality of your ice in order to determine when your machine needs cleaning. If ice becomes smaller or softer your machine may need some maintenance. If you notice that your ice begins to have an odd flavor or is cloudy your machine is probably past due for a thorough cleaning. Some machines have an automatic cleaner that simply needs to be run but others require manual cleaning. For manual cleaning, you will need a nickel free ice machine cleaning solution.
Clean Your Ice Machine Properly
In order to clean your ice machine it’s necessary to remove all water and ice that is currently in it. It is all also safest to turn off and unplug your machine. Check your machine’s manual for specific cleaning instructions as some ice machines have more working parts than others. Remove the parts of the machine that the manual instructs you to take out. Most cleaning solutions have a recommended cleaning solution to water ratio but a general ratio of one part cleaner to three parts water can be used if there are not specific instructions. Many solutions will foam on contact with lime scale or mineral deposits as they clean. Wait for the foaming to stop and then scrub your machine with a brush or cloth. Some parts may need to be soaked to completely remove extreme build up of scale. Remember to rinse all the parts that you have cleaned with water once you have scrubbed them so that they no longer have chemicals on their surfaces. It is also very important to discard the first batch of ice you make after cleaning your machine to ensure that no contaminated ice reaches customers.
It is especially important to take good care of your ice machine and practice regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Customers will appreciate quality ice and your ice machine will last longer and need fewer repairs when you clean it regularly. If it's too late and you need a refrigeration mechanic read our previous post Choosing the Right Refrigeration Mechanic.