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Ice safety

If your business uses an ice machine, you must ensure that ice is made, stored and handled hygienically to prevent contamination. 

Remember it is your responsibility to ensure that the ice served to your customer is safe and wholesome.

Ice is classed as a food. Although colder temperatures slow the growth of harmful germs, freezing does not kill them.

Using ice which has not been made hygienically can cause your customers to become ill.  This may happen because:

  • the water used to make ice is not safe
  • the ice machine itself is dirty
  • poor hygiene in handling and serving the ice.

The following advice will help ensure you can make, store and handle ice hygienically.

  1. The water supply must be safe. This normally means taking water directly from the mains. In some cases, water is piped to a tank first. You should check how your water is supplied. If your water is supplied through a tank, then special conditions will apply and you should contact us for further help.
  2. The machine should be sited in a clean area that is free from dirt and dust, off the ground and away from any sources of heat. There should be enough space and ventilation around the machine to allow for cooling. 
  3. Most manufacturers give servicing instructions in their information manuals. All machines should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer's advice.
  4. The ice machine should be cleaned and where necessary disinfected regularly to prevent mould growth.
  5. The outside and inside surfaces of the machine, particularly the door/hatch of the ice storage compartment, must be kept clean.
  6. You must store and handle ice hygienically once removed from the machine. Anyone taking ice from the machine must wash and dry their hands thoroughly before starting this task.
  7. The ice should always be removed from the machine using a clean utensil such as a scoop. Do not use bare hands to do this. A glass tumbler is not suitable because of the risk of glass fragments getting into the ice.
  8. The scoop should be washed and sanitised every day. It should be kept in a clean place, handle uppermost, until its next use. Don't keep it in the machine.
  9. Keep the door/hatch of the ice machine closed between uses to stop dirt and mould getting in.
  10. Do not use the ice compartment of the machine for storing bottles of beer, cans of soft drinks, cartons of milk or any other items.
  11. If ice is stored in buckets, lids should always be used. Ice buckets should only be accessible to your staff, to avoid customers handling ice with bare hands.
  12. Ice buckets and serving utensils must be regularly cleaned and sanitised. The ice remaining in the ice buckets at closing time should be disposed of and must not be returned to the ice machine.

For your own safety, ensure that before proceeding with any cleaning operation, the electrical power supply to the machine is switched off and that the water line is closed.

If you buy your ice bagged, ensure that it is stored separately from raw meat, preferably in a separate freezer in a sealed container. Follow the instructions above for handling ice.

We have a limited supply of stickers with a summary of this advice. If you would like one, or need any further help, call us on 023 8028 5411 or email

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