How does ice become unsanitary? It’s often human error stemming from improperly using ice scoops or placing foreign objects in the ice bin. Of course, if you’re not following sanitation guidelines for your commercial ice machine, contaminants can accumulate in the actual machine. But the main culprit usually lies in the ice bin and the way ice is scooped.

Many businesses that have ice machines choose a standard hinged ice bin for ice collection instead of an ice dispenser. Ice bins are great if you need to scoop large amounts of ice into other vessels, like coolers (for freight companies, contractors, drivers, etc) or bar wells.

When you’re using an ice bin, the way you scoop ice and where/how you store the scooper is key to keeping your ice supply safe. Here are a few tips:

  • Never leave the scoop in the ice bin!
  • Human hands should only touch the handle of the scoop, not the part that actually scoops the ice.
  • Never scoop ice directly with your hands.
  • Store the ice scoop in a harness.
  • Frequently sanitize the ice scoop.
  • Never store anything but ice in the ice bin (ice scoop, soda, beer, glasses, food, etc…)

Shockingly, our Health Inspector friends tell us they’ve seen raw meat stored in the same ice that is served to customers in drinks! This is a huge health and safety hazard! They’ve also found glassware in the ice bin (to chill) and glasses being used as ice scoops. This is doubly dangerous! Not only are you cross-contaminating the ice, but the possibility of a glass breaking and infiltrating the ice adds another hazard.

As our CMO and co-founder, John Mahlmeister, remarked “Not to make light of serious matter, but do you remember where Mr. Chow spent the night in the movie Hangover 2?— Yep, in the ice machine!”

To keep your ice clean and safe, No Foreign Objects in the ice bin (people included)! Bottom line, if you’re using a hinged ice bin, Only use a sanitized, properly stored ice scoop for removing ice.

We recently read about cock roaches found in a university dormitory’s ice bin (yes, that’s gross!). How they got there, no one really knows. But our guess is they infiltrated through an open ice bin.

For better control of ice sanitation, an ice dispenser is the solution. This is the type of dispenser you see in hotels and convenience store soda stations. For our friends at the dorm, a dispenser is probably a better option than a hinged ice bin.

And that’s the scoop on ice scoops.

If you need a commercial ice machine, bin and/or dispenser, we can help you out with that! Questions or comments about ice safety, ice bins? Let us know and we’ll give you more scoop from our expert team of Iceologists.