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Coronavirus and ice makers: Keeping staff and customers safe


How is COVID-19 spread?

According to the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects. While there is not a clear understanding of the length of time that the disease can endure on surfaces, existing evidence suggests it may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.

Coronavirus and ice makers

You can considerably lower the risk of spreading disease by following basic food safety and food handling best practices. Doing so will help prevent both staff and customers from getting ill.
Like other transmittable diseases, COVID-19 coronavirus can transfer from a dirty ice maker to employees and consumers. As with many of the diseases that may be connected with an ice maker, the main threat is somebody picking ice out with their hand. Ice makers are not an environment where viruses can easily multiply, however ice can carry bacteria if workers practice inappropriate ice handling techniques. An infected person who coughs or sneezes into their hand and touches an ice bin door or dispenser button can also contaminate the ice supply itself. This can potentially spread viruses onto other surface areas, the next user or into a customer’s glassware.

Prevent the spread of Coronavirus with safe ice handling practices

To eliminate bacteria like COVID-19, disinfect and sanitize high use ice maker surfaces that users will likely touch.

  • Restrict access to the ice maker and ice storage bin wherever possible to limit contact and opportunities for contamination.
  • Clean the exterior surfaces of your ice maker with mild bleach solution or isopropyl alcohol spray.
  • Sanitize the interior surfaces of your ice storage bin with mild bleach solution, isopropyl alcohol spray or manufacturers sanitizing solution.
  • Keep the ice storage bin door closed when ice is not being used.
  • Staff should wash their hands prior to removing ice out of the ice storage bin.
  • Always use a sanitized ice scoop to remove ice from the ice bin. Never use hands, glass ware or other utensils. Store the ice scoop outside of the bin.
  • Use ice dispensers where possible to avoid ice contamination. Regularly sanitize the ice dispenser button or lever as the virus can be passed through button or lever contact.
  • Position a supply of sanitizing wipes or hand sterilizing stations near the machine. Ask users to sterilize their hands before and after every use.

What can a hospitality business do to protect against coronavirus?

According to health department guidelines, food businesses can continue to practice good food handling hygiene. A food handler should spend at least 20 seconds washing their hands with soap and water:

  • Before starting work
  • Before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food
  • After handling or preparing raw food
  • After handling waste
  • After cleaning duties
  • After using the toilet
  • After blowing nose, sneezing or coughing
  • After eating drinking or smoking
  • After handling money

Best practices to help stop the spread of illness like coronavirus:

  • Stress to employees to practice good food handling hygiene as described and limit unnecessary contact
  • Use contactless techniques to greet each other – no handshakes or hugs
  • Use signage to encourage routine hand washing
  • Decontaminate surface areas like door handles, handrails, food preperation surfaces, benches and tables frequently
  • Practice social distancing
  • Have ill staff members self-isolate at home

Coronavirus symptoms

Common Coronavirus symptoms consist of fever, tiredness and dry cough. Other symptoms can include shortness of breath, aches and pains, sore throat and nausea. It is necessary that any staff members with these signs remain at home in self-isolation and should seek medical attention. People showing even mild symptoms may be contagious and high risk people can establish far worse signs, so it is necessary to think about their security. Following health department standards, practicing good food handling hygiene, practicing social distancing and regular ice maker sanitization and maintenance are the best ways to prevent the spread of diseases like coronavirus.

At Best Ice Machines, we professionally clean and sanitize ice makers for Newcastle, Central Coast and Hunter Valley businesses twice a year. Professional ice machine service also helps in cleaning up sediment, slime, or scale. Call us on 1300 237 842 for help.

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