As the weather gets warmer, peak season for iced beverages is arriving as well. Edible ice is widely used in preparing food and cold drinks. But it’s a little-known fact that ice machines that produce the ice we drink could potentially be a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and pathogens. This means that ice we consume could become a vehicle of spreading foodborne diseases.
Contamination in ice could be more common than we thought. In July 2017, an edible ice sample collected under the routine Food Surveillance Programme of the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) was found to contain excessive coliform bacteria. In the UK, a news article was published that collected ice from ten well-known fast-food chains and announced that in six out of ten locations, those ice cubes “contained higher levels of bacteria than the water samples taken from toilet bowls at the same establishments”.
The Important of Edible Ice Safety
Ice should always be manufactured and handled with the same strict standards that we use to treat our food. Ever since the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) ran an article on the food safety of the ice, the focus on the safety of commercial ice has been closely inspected. Following safe food handling guidelines is critical in preventing the spread of foodborne illness and the same should be applied to consumer ice production.
Ice machines should be cleaned regularly and thoroughly, with ice storage bins emptied and cleaned on a weekly or biweekly basis to cut the risk of possible contamination. This is a critically important, albeit time consuming task. Ice machines should be cleaned and descaled at least once every six months. And employees who handle ice or utensils that touch ice should go through proper training before they start handling ice that customers consume.
We can never be too cautious when it comes to food safety. In addition to the above precautions, ozone is a powerful solution to help prevent bacteria from getting into ice that you or your customers consume.
The Magic of Ozone
Ozone is one of the most effective solutions for protecting commercial ice machines. By injecting aqueous ozone into the ice machine’s incoming water line, we are able to protect more parts of the machine from pathogen build-up. As the ozonated water flows through the pipes, tubes, and different mechanisms of the ice machine, it continues to kill bacteria it comes in contact with. This protection continues through the entire machine and is frozen into the ice itself where it will safely off-gas which helps to protect the ice storage bin walls as well. Through this way, cleaner, safe ice is produced, while lowering overall maintenance on the ice machine.
How it works
Electrolytic ozone treatment works by combining electricity with water through an electrolytic ozone generator(EOG). It’s considered a safe and effective disinfectant alternative to chemicals for food safety applications. Including decontamination of water and sterilization of kitchen equipment, ozone is also very effective in eliminating biological matter in the water like bacteria or viruses, killing them instantly.
After filtration, the water goes through electrolysis and the chemical ionization is finished. This helps remove any particulate matter that was created in the process. The final water supply is then completely free of impurities.
When it comes to ice and drinking water, ozone is a safe and effective sanitation method, protecting against even some of the most resistant microorganisms, according to the CDC. In addition to its strong ability in disinfection, it leaves no chemical residues, and it has no taste or smell after reaction. It also has no effect on the pH balance of water. And rest assured, it causes no negative effect or irritation to our mouth, nose or skin, which makes it the perfect source of edible ice.
Ozone Ice Machine Disinfection Systems
Ozonated water is easy to obtain now with the availability of commercial ozone generators (link to product). The Ice Machine Disinfection System by BioSure uses patented electrolytic technology to generate ozone-dissolved water with adjustable ozonation levels. In other applications it can also be integrated with the existing water supply, transforming the general tap water into high-concentration antibacterial disinfection water.
The system utilizes BioSure patented technology to produce ozone, the strongest food grade disinfectant approved by the FDA. When integrated with an ice machine under clean and extra clean settings, the ice harvest is disinfected and free of microorganisms. Anti-bacterial ice means it has residual disinfection properties to further inhibit microbial growth.
The ice that is made from this ozone-treated water is perfect for consumption and use in high quality products, as well as for storage of food products to maintain high levels of hygiene and prolong freshness. Moreover, the ozonated water will eliminate and prevent biofilm growth in the waterline as well as its surroundings. When integrated with ice machines, ozonated water eliminates mold and microbial growth, minimizing maintenance on the machine and storage bins.
Ozone ice also reduces costs associated with cleaning crews that use chemical solutions to keep commercial ice machines sanitized. Then there are the costs and risks of cleaning crews damaging ice machines from regularly cleaning them by hand. Ozone eliminates these risks and costs in one fell swoop.
The ice and water produced with ozone will completely sanitize and improve the quality of beverages. Also, the attached spray hose allows for convenient ice storage bin disinfection. The system will effectively improve any ice produced through better safety, without altering the taste and smell.
BES patented technology only uses tap water to create a high purity ozonated. This presents considerable benefits compared to traditional methods of ozone production by air water. These advantages include ozonated water that achieves a concentration above 28 weight percent (wt%). It’s also safe to use and free of harmful nitrogen oxides (NoX). It’s unaffected by humidity, and the technology produces a consistent and reliable ozonated water concentration compared to traditional methods of ozonation
Aside from just ice machines, ozone is used in a number of applications and industries, including medical, dental, and food sanitation industries among others. It prevents decay and eliminates decomposition agents such as bacteria, yeast, and molds, and enhances food safety by reducing populations of foodborne pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Shigella.
When considering the alternative, ozone is invaluable to businesses that serve cold beverages, whether it’s cafes, restaurants, or bars. These establishments have a responsibility to keep their customers safe. With ozone, both business owners and customers have peace of mind when enjoying a cold drink on a hot summer day.