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Tracy Kosbau
Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations

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Is My Ice Safe?
Ice bucket challenge puts ice in food safety spotlight

The FDA Food Code defines ice as food - so the same handling and cleanliness standards apply.

Wisconsin’s Food Code has this to say about ice:

  • Ice for use as a food or cooling medium shall be made from drinking water.
  • After use as a medium for cooling the exterior surfaces of food such as melon or fish, packaged food such as canned beverage, or cooling coils and tubes of equipment, ice may not be used as food.

Restaurant or bar workers handling ice should be taught these precautions:

  • Wash hands before obtaining ice.
  • Don’t handle ice with hands.
  • Don’t use a glass to scoop ice; it may chip or break.
  • Hold the ice scoop by the handle and not other parts of the scoop.
  • Store scoops outside of the ice machine, in a clean protected container.
  • Do not return unused ice to the ice storage chest or ice machine.
  • Keep the doors to ice machines or ice storage chest closed except when removing ice.
  • Ice contact surfaces must be sanitized after each cleaning.

Ice can cause foodborne illnesses. Some outbreaks have been linked to the presence of Norovirus in the ice. This can be the result of contaminated water or poor handling practices. Other outbreaks involving ice have been caused by Salmonella, hepatitis A and E.coli.

  • Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria or inactivate viruses.

Ice machines must be cleaned at a frequency specified by the manufacturer to avoid the accumulation of soil or mold but it’s a good idea to clean and sanitize ice machines at least once a month. Always follow the manufacturers’ guidelines regarding cleaning and use their recommended cleaning products.

If you have additional questions on food and beverage safety practices for any type of food, the WRA Education Foundation offers ServSafe food safety and bartender training. For specific questions on the FDA or Wisconsin Food Code, you can also contact the WRA Hotline Team.

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Wisconsin Restaurant Association • 2801 Fish Hatchery Rd. • Madison, WI 53713 • Tel: 608.270.9950 • Toll Free: 800.589.3211 • FAX: 608.270.9960