Ice Machines and Other Kitchen Areas with the Highest Safety Risks

Posted by Patrick Maness +


It’s the nature of the food industry that things get dirty. There is simply no way to cut bacteria and germs out of the equation — after all, what’s food for humans is also food for germs. In essence, the task to keep a restaurant clean and free of germs is an ongoing struggle. One that must begin anew each day.

In the continual effort to maintain a sanitary kitchen, there are definite hotspots where bacteria fester, breed and spread. Knowing and targeting these spots can help prevent an outbreak or an unpleasant visit from the health inspector.

Ice machines — By some accounts, the ice from ice machines often contains more bacteria than the toilet water. At least, that’s what the Daily Mail reported in 2013. Now, this wasn’t a scientific study, nor did it say what bacteria were present in the water. Nonetheless, it points to a real concern. Many workers don’t wash their hands before using the ice scoop. Over just a short period of time, this can cause bacteria to spread and grow in the machine. The simple solution is to require workers to wash their hands before handling the ice scoop. For more details on how to properly sanitize your ice machine, see our blog in this series: How to clean your ice machine.

Cutting boards — Because of the various foods prepared on cutting boards, they are regular housing developments for bacteria. The best method of prevention is, of course, to wash and sanitize cutting boards immediately after every use. Also, it's recommended that you do the same with any knives you use.

Beards — As the Lumbersexual image has spread through America and more young men are donning beards, more beards are showing up in the back of kitchens. Of course, the problem here is that stray hairs may begin showing up in meals, not to mention germs. To prevent this from happening and ensure safe food handling, many restaurants now require beard nets.

Thermometers — While thermometers are not a bacterial hotspot on their own, if they malfunction, they can cause a lot of problems. It’s not enough to make sure the temperature of the food is right; you need to regularly calibrate thermometers to ensure you’re not accidentally storing or cooking food at the wrong temperature.

Floors — Because they’re made for walking and (ideally) not for food prep, floors are often neglected when it comes to cleaning and sanitation. This can lead to insects, rodents and other kitchen hazards no restaurant owner wants to deal with. So make sure your employees are cleaning as they cook. Be especially aware of those hard-to-reach areas where stray food can accumulate.

Read other articles in this series:

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