Have you ever found slime in your ice making machine? It is a problem that can be easily rectified with some simple maintenance. I will explain how the slime you have encountered is formed, and how to deal with the problem safely and effectively.
What is Slime??
The slime that can be found building up in ice machines is a type of fungus or mould which thrives in various temperatures and environments. It grows from bacteria that is found in many appliances that are supplied with water. Machines that are exposed to water droplets that are in a warm atmosphere are the most likely to suffer from this situation.
The droplets of water are sometimes caused by the cleaning utensils you use, such as wire sponges and scourers. They can also be present from the construction and design of the machine. If the residual water droplets are left exposed, or if the machine is not maintained properly, you will then see bacteria and mold growths in the moist, cool environment of your ice machine. In general, slime will take on a pinkish color, however, if left untreated, the pink will turn to red, green, brown and black in appearance. These can form icicle type growths after a period of time. Sounds lovely doesn’t it!
In general, the slime will not cause food borne illnesses, but it can cause the ice to have a foul taste or musky smell. This can cause a huge problem in the catering trade. Customers will not usually complain to the restaurant or bar directly. They are more likely to moan to family and friends, and proceed to write an awful review about the establishment online, something that has ruined many establishments reputation, which will obviously have a detrimental effect on business.
Who is Likely to Suffer??
As you would expect, a healthy adult is not at a high risk of becoming ill through the slime present in an ice machine. People who have experienced trouble with respiratory illnesses, the elderly and infants are most at risk to diseases contracted through the pathogens found in contaminated beverages and other types of food. It can be a serious problem to have slime in an ice machine.
How Can I Prevent Any Problems?
The bacteria found in ice machines can be easily, and safely dealt with. Undertaking a regular cleaning regime helps to prevent any accumulation before it starts to form. Keeping the ice machine properly sanitized is the first step. Only use clean, soft cloths or paper towels. After cleaning the machine, ensure you leave no residual moisture, even sanitized drips of water can eventually turn into bacteria and fungus. Be sure to wipe clean any condensation found on a regular basis, the machine will naturally create this moisture.
Bleach is often used in professional kitchens and catering environments. As we all know bleach is a powerful and relatively cheap cleaning solution, but please bear in mind that it is not safe to use chlorine based fluids on stainless steel. The formulation of bleach will react with the metals used to make stainless steel. The correct sanitizing solution would be a QAC formula (quaternary ammonium). These cleaning products are widely available in many stores.
Another important consideration is the age and usability of the ice machine. If your appliance is old, it becomes harder to keep clean and ensure it is safe for use. Please visit the following link to see some of the crazy deals available on various ice machines. The site also has plenty of reviews on a wide variety of machines.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you will ensure that your appliance remains hygienic and produces good quality ice, for years to come.