By Len Panaggio, Beverage Consultant
As the weather turns to fall and the nights get chillier, it has made me really start thinking about ice. As many of you know, my job causes me to be out constantly visiting restaurants, bars, country clubs and hotels.
I’ve noticed a really disturbing commonality among these venues…the way that each is treating ice. While it may seem unimportant on the surface, ice is a food product and as such is regulated to a certain extent by the Department of Health. It is consumed by our guests in many of the drinks we serve.
There are two parts to this – one the consumer sees and one they don’t. The ice machine itself, with the exception of a few places, is out of sight and out of mind. But, management needs to regularly inspect them.
The bin lids and the area around the lids are a breeding ground for mold. The filters for ice machines are expensive, but need to be regularly replaced; much of the water coming into our buildings is not all that pure. The screens in front of the compressors need to be cleaned and the ice scoop needs to be run through a dishwasher and placed somewhere clean when not in use.
Back to the front of the house. My biggest issue is the buckets used to transfer the ice from the machines to the bar and server stations. I watch in horror as staff will bring out two, three or four at a time, empty the contents into the ice stations and then proceed to stack the buckets! The bottoms have dirt, grime and germs. It’s absolutely disgusting!
The buckets should never be stacked and should be run through the dishwasher daily or at least scrubbed by the kitchen team. It is incumbent upon management to make sure staff is treating ice and the instruments to transport it as food items. The last thing anyone wants is to make our guest sick!