A few years, the ultimate source of ice to chill our drinks was the packed bag of ice that we got from the convenience stores. They were almost readily available for instant use and with the advent of refrigerators with freezers, people started making ice at home by freezing water overnight in their freezers. But this was not able to match the high demand for ice to make instant drinks and to make large quantities of drinks during parties and when guests were expected.
So people again started relying on convenience stores to buy bagged ice for the drinks. Now the question is, are these bagged ice good enough to make it to your drink? Are the bagged ice not like any other packed food that could have possibly been contaminated with a dangerous bacterium like salmonella, and E. coli?
Well, the answer is a big yes. There are all chances for the bagged ice to have been contaminated. Packed ice, that could have been possibly contaminated with viruses and bacteria is the number one cause of food-borne illnesses. The portable ice maker comes as an excellent remedy to eliminate bagged and contaminated ice for the drinks.
The portable ice makers are able to make ice in huge volumes and they are capable of making ice pretty instantly in less than 10 minutes, thus you don’t have to run to the convenience store every time. And most importantly it is you who are making ice for your family, and won’t you be extra cautious about the health and safety of your family members and your guests?
When we make ice by ourselves, we make sure that we use high-quality and potable water for the ice-making process. We feed the reservoir of the portable ice makers with filtered water and make sure that the ice is transferred to the drinks when they are still fresh and frozen. Also, we make sure that the ice maker is cleaned and sanitized periodically so that the slightest chance of mold and microbe contamination of the ice cubes is eliminated.
Thus, we can conclude that bagged ice should not be put in your drinks without verifying the source, and the best option is to make ice at home on your own with your portable ice maker. Still not convinced? Then read through to learn why we discourage the use of bagged ice in the drinks.
Why Bagged Ice is Not a Healthy Option for Your Chilled Drinks and Beverages?
In a recent study conducted by the University of Georgia on the quality of ice that is been manufactured and bagged at the local convenience stores, fast food restaurants, gas stations, liquor sources, self-serving ice vending machines, and other retail locations, it was found that not all the retailers and the vending machines seem to follow the sanitary practices for the safe producing and packaging of ice. It is mandatory for all retailers and ice production units to follow the standards of the International Package Ice association IPIA and the Packed ice quality control standards PIQCS. But how many retailers are following these guidelines stringently, is a matter of great question.
It was found that the consumer who bought ice from the non-IPIA following retailers are at great risk for acquiring food-borne illnesses and are at chance of contaminating the other people in their household as well. The only possible way to prevent such risk of infection and contamination is to buy ice only from packaged ice manufacturers who have been certified by the IPIA. Look for the logo while purchasing ice so that you can be sure that the ice you buy is safe to consume. Here are a few important things to inspect your bagged ice for, to be sure that it is safe to use.
- Check for the IPIA logo in the packed ice
- Make sure that the ice you buy is free from any smell and taste
- Check the product code and the expiry date on the ice pack
- Check the contact details of the manufacturer if it is printed in the bag
- Check the pack for any foreign objects
- Make sure that the bag is properly sealed and secured. Do not accept ice bags with drawstring ties.
Is the Ice You Bought From the Store More Contaminated than the Ice You Make at Home?
The answer is, that it depends on where you buy the ice and how best you maintain your ice maker at home. If you are using the portable ice maker at home without cleaning it appropriately, then you are running the same danger as that of store-bought ice cubes. Similarly, if you buy ice from a local store that doesn’t follow the IPIA guidelines in the safe preparation, handling, and storage of ice, then the risk is worse. It has been estimated that the average American buys about four bags of packed ice every year and it is preferably on important dates and celebrations. The laws are also strict against the ice manufacturers so that they maintain strict cleanliness and hygiene practices in the manufacturing unit.
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FDA Regulations on Packed Ice
The Food and drug administration states that the ice manufacturers should produce and store ice in clean and sanitary conditions and also maintains the hygiene of the employees at all the time. The manufacturers should ensure that their equipment is clean and hygienic and safe water is used for the manufacturing of ice. FDA states that ice should be made from drinking quality water and the ice that is been bagged for sale in stores and restaurants should be labeled with the name of the company, the product, the weight, and also the address of the manufacturers.
The commercial ice maker manufacturers should understand that the ice machines are food contact surfaces that are capable of getting contaminated easily and should thus be sanitized and cleaned for safe ice production. The ice sellers should make use of scoops to draw the ice and not their hands, to prevent contamination. And most importantly, the commercial ice machines should meet the appropriate plumbing requirements and prevent the backup of water waste in the ice bin.
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Alternative for Bagged Ice
Though the IPIA demands that the packed ice is of pristine quality, the still government needs to check on them periodically for the ice quality. Apart from the ice, even the bags that are used to pack them, should be made of food-safe materials. Monitoring every single manufacturing unit in this regard is not possible and thus the best alternative to use high-quality ice in the drinks is to prepare them at home, before your eyes with the help of the countertop ice maker, and transfer them into the drinks instantly.