Ice or Frozen Water is Food.That statement may or may not be real to you. This is our industry's point of view- "Ice is Food." But to all the people we have surveyed, they don't agree. In fact, the people we surveyed said that water is not food let alone frozen water. What then do you call the frozen water the ice you eat as part of a drink if it isn't called food? While ice it isn't meat, poultry, or vegetation because one ingests this as part of or as an ingredient to something else, it is a food product simply due to the fact we eat/drink it.
So we treat water and frozen water as a food product. We use every effort to protect it from contamination. Contamination is anything which is not supposed to be included. So if anything we remove ingredients (filter) from our water supply to deliver to you only delicious, yummy, crystal clear, frozen water- never touched by human hands (or any other parts).
Can we discuss the Ice you make at Home?You either have an automated ice making system or you are using plastic trays-
Automated ice making systems built into home freezer/refrigerators: The way these systems start to make ice is when the level of ice in the bin goes down below a set point a switch trips causing the system to start to make ice. It then stops when the switch is made or the level of ice is high enough to turn the switch off.
How is ice made in the above scenario?
Water comes through a water line possibly through a water filer and fills a tray where it freezes to make ice. Then it deposits that ice into a bin in your freezer sitting until you need it. Once made and stored, it is dispensed through a hole on the door into your glass or container.
Let's Examine Making Ice at Home A Bit More Carefully:There is a small water line many times made of copper or now comes from plastic lines connected to your freezer. The water in this line generally sits stagnant in your water line for days or possibly weeks before it flows through your filter into the ice maker. (If you have a filter, if you don't replace that often enough you may be actually adding bacteria to the water.) The water is deposited into the ice tray and once ice is formed, it is then dumped into the storage bin. All the parts of that water are frozen in the process which is part of the reason why your ice at home is so white in color. The ice making parts of this system likely have never been cleaned. Most people occasionally clean the bin but I haven't met many people who have cleaned the actual ice maker.
Then is ice sitting in the bin just sits uncovered in that bin waiting to be dispensed— If you could identify the ice made by color or number, you might have an idea how long it had been sitting uncovered in your bin.
This brings up two important questions about food and water: Would you have any food in your freezer or refrigerator sitting uncovered? Ever? This ice is just sitting for long periods – sublimating (meaning it goes from solid to gas- shrinking). If it were produce you would see wrinkles on it and know when it got old when to discard it. But ice doesn't wrinkle it just shrinks. You serve it in whatever shape it's in. Regarding the water question: if you had an uncovered glass of water sitting on your counter or in your refrigerator… just sitting there for days or weeks… Would you EVER drink it or serve it to your friends and family? Chances are you would only drink it if really desperate. But the ice sitting uncovered made from stagnant water, in a machine you've hardly if ever cleaned is served to those you love everyday. It is very curious why we treat frozen water as if it can't grow or contain harmful germs or bacteria (Yes, germs live in ice).
Look at the Ice cube tray method of making ice at home:In the case of using ice cube trays. Most of us run water before filling these trays. Again, all the water is used to make ice thus being part of the reason for it being white in color rather than crystal clear.
In the case of the trays, contamination is the big issue: Most times people don't think twice about reaching in grabbing the tray, twisting and handling the ice going into someone's glass. The chance of contamination is high as people don't generally stop to wash their hands well before touching the cubes.
About this time, many people will recall never getting sick from the ice in their drink and think we're just overstating the truth… How many times have you ever gotten a stomach upset in your life? How many times did you ever consider the possibility it was the ice that got you sick? Most people blame the chicken, the fish, the mayonnaise – a virus, their kid sister…. Rare that people ever consider the potential for getting sick from ingesting ice.
Ice Bagged in the Back Rooms of Convenience Stores:How do you know for certain the ice in your convenience store is packaged sanitarily? By seeing our logo on the package you're buying is one way to know for sure. While the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Markets Inspectors do look at the ice makers in the backroom of convenience stores… they generally just look in or at the bin. The Food Codes which are used are very general and don't cover how to inspect ice well. Nor are there good guidelines for any store owner to use to insure quality control. Serving a filthy contaminated product is not done with purpose. It is done simply because most people don't see ice as the food it is. If you don't have the reality this is a food product then why would you handle it with care? This ice bin we were referring to earlier is the storage unit under the ice maker. NO convenience store has to undergo monthly tests to insure product safety. No inspector generally takes the covers off of the icemakers in these stores/restaurants to see the filth, the slimy (mucus like) growth in the sump and water areas. There are NO mandates to the sanitation of the equipment used for bagging, no mandatory gloves, hairnets etc which we use as a matter of Good Manufacturing Practice.
Many times you purchase packages of ice in bags with string ties or with some type of closure where anything can get onto or into the product. In some stores we have noticed they store food with the ice and if that food drips into the package… one drop of raw chicken will make the entire family ill. Will you ever think – was it the ice? Most likely not.
Do you really think that minimum waged employees are washing their hands really well before they bag up the ice in the backroom, for sale out front? Whatever bodily fluid can be found in a bathroom (mucus, earwax, poop and anything from either male or female genital areas) can be found in the ice bagged in this manner.
The regulators think that because ice is used as a refrigerant rather than an ingredient this is acceptable. Combined with the lack of records of people getting sick eating ice explain why the laws do not adequately protect the consumer. But really, even in the case of refrigeration where you are purchasing ice for your cooler, would you want someone's fecal matter on the outside of a can or bottle or even the dead fish you will cook for dinner?? We believe all ice packaged like this should be clearly labeled: NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.
What about the icemakers you now find at the large box stores? Have you noticed in some of the larger chain stores, there are ice merchandisers where on top of the merchandisers are ice makers and a unit which bags the ice. In this case, there is less potential for human contamination as the ice is being bagged by machinery. But the ONLY time these machines are usually cleaned is when they breakdown. Again, if you saw the slimy, disgusting, interior areas where the ice is being made- you wouldn't stick put this ice into your glass. We believe all ice packaged like this should be clearly labeled: NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.
What Makes Our Frozen Water Different?When trying to compare this product to any other frozen water in a bag here are the facts: Random samples of our packaged ice is tested by a third party lab monthly. In a home ice maker, all the parts of the water deposited into your icemaker are frozen. In our process, we multi filter the water and then our system constantly pumps and circulates a batch of water at a time through a set of tubes. These tubes are surrounded by a refrigerant and thus the water freezes from the outside in, leaving a small hole on the interior center. In nature from a running stream the purest parts in our case of the filtered water is used to produce this ice. The rest of the water is used elsewhere in our facility and then discarded. When we say we filter it- you can ask why is this different then your filter process at home? We monitor the life of the filters both with pressure readings as well on an hour usage and change our filters on a schedule to insure our filters are working properly and doing their job. True as well for the ice maker itself, we clean and sanitize this regularly to ensure a safe, clean, and delicious ice.
Food Production Standards— our ice goes from a machine into another machine and so forth; into a package (only virgin plastics and FDA approved inks are used) which (in most cases) we form here. At NO time is the ice touched by a person. There are many areas of our plant which is off limits to most of our employees and no visitors. If there is any question to the sanitation of product, that product is discarded.
2007 City Ice Company was been recognized by the International Packaged Ice Association (IPIA) for PIQCS (Packaged Ice Quality Control Standards) PLUS accreditation. This includes HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point – an excepted Food Industry Safety Program developed for NASA many years ago to be proactive toward food safety for the Airspace program to keep our astronauts safe from food borne illnesses) which is the "Highest Accreditation Granted by the IPIA."