When customers need ice in a very short amount of time, it’s tempting to run to your local convenience store and purchase a prepackaged 10-20 pound bag of ice. It’s portable, perfect for filling up coolers, and relatively affordable. Prepackaged ice is considered a food product by the FDA. Unfortunately, even with standards in place, not all prepackaged ice is created equal. Recent studies have shown that ice can become contaminated with serious foodborne bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. This is because packaged ice can come from a multitude of different sources. Many people think that the freezing process destroys all pathogens present in foods, but bacteria and viruses can survive on ice cubes and some can even multiply. A study was done at the University of Texas that stated Salmonella, E. Coli, and Shigella all survived on ice cubes, even when mixed with colas, scotch and water, and 85-proof tequila. This is why it is important, when purchasing prepackaged ice, to look out for the IPIA logo on the package.
The IPIA is the International Packaged Ice Association. They partner with many of the nation’s largest packaged ice retailers such as ReddyIce, Arctic Glacier, and Polar Ice Inc. to ensure that these companies are taking adequate steps to prevent the presence of foodborne pathogens in their products. Check out this link for the full list of IPIA approved retailers. When buying prepackaged ice, look for the IPIA logo to ensure the products are safe. Another way to ensure that the prepackaged ice you’re buying is safe, is to look at the state of the machine that it is stored in. Many retailers purchase ice merchandisers which store large quantities of prepackaged ice for resale. These machines often go unnoticed when the rest of the equipment in the store is being serviced. As they have a large footprint, retailers often place these machines outside, exposed to the elements. Be sure that the ice you purchase is being stored in a clean, fully operational unit and let the retailer know if there is a problem or if the unit needs repairs.
For prepackaged ice retailers in Lubbock and West Texas, SPECS offers preventative maintenance and repair service on most ice merchandising equipment. Leer Inc, the nation’s largest manufacturer of ice merchandisers, publishes all user manuals on their website, which contain all information needed to take proper care of your ice merchandising equipment. If your business is using a prepackaged ice supplier, be sure that they are working with the IPIA and ensure you are providing safe, pathogen free ice to your customers. If you or your business is in need of new ice merchandising equipment, or ice making equipment, call SPECS today and speak to one of our ice experts!