Ice used in the preparation of food
Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements are being phased in over the following 12 to 30 months. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.
Ice is commonly used by food businesses in the production of a food. It is often used:
- as an ingredient
- as a cooling agent
- to prolong the shelf life of a food
Note: In Canada, ice intended for human consumption is regulated as a food.
Because ice may be used as an ingredient, or may come into direct contact with food, care should be taken to ensure that the ice is made from suitable water and is handled in such a way that it does not become contaminated. The safety of ice is dependent on the:
- source of ice or water used to make the ice
- sanitary conditions under which it is prepared and stored
- sanitary handling practices and packaging
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) created this document as guidance to help food businesses comply with the requirements set out in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and section 12 of the Food and Drug Regulations.
You may use other guidance developed by provincial governments, industry associations, international partners or academic bodies as long as they can achieve the outcomes identified in the regulations. Always ensure that the guidance you choose is relevant for your particular business, product or products, and market requirements.
What is included
This document provides information on controlling the hazards related to the safe production of prepackaged ice and the use of ice in food manufacturing. It outlines best practices for:
- the establishment and equipment
- establishment construction and design
- equipment design and operation
- making block ice
- testing ice
Refer to the Tell me more! section for additional sources of information that may help you ensure the ice you use are safe for the intended use.
What is not included
While this document provides information on best practices for ice production and handling, it is not exhaustive – the preventive control measures needed will depend on the size and complexity of the food business and be unique for each business.
This document does not address:
- ice intended for use in a non-food contact application
- water used in ice production (refer to the guidance document Water for use in the preparation of food)
Roles and responsibilities
Food businesses are responsible for complying with the law. They demonstrate compliance by ensuring that the commodities and processes for which they are responsible meet regulatory requirements. If a written preventive control plan (PCP) is required, the food business develops a PCP with supporting documents, monitors and maintains evidence of its implementation, and verifies that all control measures are effective.
The CFIA verifies the compliance of a food business by conducting activities that include inspection, and surveillance. When non-compliance is identified, the CFIA takes appropriate compliance and enforcement actions.
Ice used in the production of food
When ice is used in a manner that can bring it into contact with a food, or is incorporated into food, it is important for the ice and the water released from the melting ice to be free from biological, chemical or physical hazards that can present a risk of contamination to a food.
The ice for use in the manufacturing, processing, treatment or preservation of a food should be safe and suitable for its intended use.
Note: Division 12 of the Food and Drug Regulations applies to prepackaged ice offered for sale.
Freezing water does not kill bacteria, nor does it inactivate viruses. Viruses can survive in ice for long periods of time.
Establishment and equipment
As with food, ice has to be prepared, packaged and stored under suitable, clean and sanitary conditions and protected from contamination.
1. Establishment construction and design
The establishment where you produce ice has to be designed, constructed, maintained and operated in a manner that does not present a risk of contamination to the ice.
- Having a dedicated room for the production of ice, a protective enclosure or other type of physical separation from areas where food or non-food products are prepared helps prevent cross-contamination of the ice
2. Equipment design and operation
The equipment used to produce ice, or treat water used for ice, has to be appropriate for use, designed, constructed and maintained to function as intended and prevent contamination of the ice.
- Water treatment systems such as filter beds and media filters have to be maintained in proper working condition to prevent contamination of the ice from foreign matter, for example, carbon from the filter media
- Ice should be handled with tools and equipment dedicated for use with only ice
- Ice crushers, augers and other ice processing and handling equipment should be maintained to prevent ice from becoming contaminated (for example, by lubricants and metal shavings)
Cleaning and sanitizing the equipment and utensils used to produce the ice at the start of production and after shutdown can prevent contamination of the ice.
Sanitation procedures should include:
- cleaning contact surfaces and equipment to remove contaminants such as mineral scale or hard water stains, oxidation and food residue
- air drying
Further information is available in the guidance document Cleaning and sanitation program.
Making block ice
When producing ice by filling cans with water to be frozen:
- using a refrigerated bath filled with a brine solution (usually sodium or calcium chloride):
- potable water should be used in the warm water dipping tanks used to release the frozen blocks from the cans
- by circulating a refrigerant through the outer jacket and a piping system inside each ice:
- the ice should be protected from contamination by the refrigerant
If compressed air is used to agitate the water in the blocks to accelerate the block freezing process:
- the air comes in direct contact with the water as it freezes so you should ensure that the air is adequately trapped and filtered to prevent its contamination dust, dirt, and other extraneous material
- the compressed air should be produced from a compressor or blower which is designed and operated to deliver oil-free air
- You should maintain and regularly inspect the ice cans to ensure that they remain leak proof and free from corrosion on the inner surfaces
- leaks can potentially allow the brine solution to enter the ice block and contaminate the ice
- You should use potable water to wash the ice blocks
You should conduct microbiological testing of the finished ice to ensure compliance with Division 12 of the Food and Drug Regulations.
- The testing frequency recommended is at least once per month
- A test method for ice that is recognized by Health Canada is the MFO-15, Microbiological examination of water in sealed containers (excluding mineral and spring water) and of prepackaged ice
If you use ice that was made in another establishment, you should:
- obtain a certificate of analysis from the ice manufacturer
- establish a testing frequency and sample and test the ice to verify compliance with the standards prescribed in Division 12 of the Food and Drug Regulations
Tell me more! Further reading
The following references contain information that helps explain food safety controls, demonstrates how to develop them, and provides examples. The CFIA is not responsible for the content of documents that are created by other government agencies or international sources.
- Cleaning and sanitation program
- Conducting a hazard analysis
- Pest Control
- Water for use in the production of food
- Association of Food and Drug Officials, Guidelines for the Inspection and Enforcement of GMP Regulations for Handling and Manufacturing Packaged Ice, 1989
- FAO, The use of ice on small fishing vessels, FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 436, 2003
- Health Canada, Guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality
- Health Canada, MFO-15 Microbiological examination of water in sealed containers (excluding mineral and spring water) and of prepackaged ice
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