This last November and December, UPMC Presbyterian in Pennsylvania learned firsthand the damage that a contaminated hospital ice machine can do when one patient died and two were sickened. 

Staff members were first alerted to the possible connection between a patient who had contracted Legionnaires’ disease and their ice machines when they remembered the patient aspirating while sucking on ice chips. It didn’t take long for tests to confirm the link between the patient and a contaminated ice machine.

Like many who are faced with a contaminated ice machine, they wondered how warm-water loving Legionella flourished in the cold confines of their ice machine. Not all compartments in an ice machine are cold, and some areas where ice is produced can be at or even above room temperature. The truth is that ice machines present an ideal environment where Legionella and other harmful bacteria can not only survive but can actually thrive.

This incident led to the testing of all of the 500-plus ice machines in 20 hospitals across the hospital system. What the testing found was that 20% of Presbyterian’s 80-plus ice machines contained Legionella.

This tragic incident led to UPMC’s worst nightmare; their good name was tarnished, they had to pay for testing and compensation, and, worst of all, one of their patients lost her life and two others fell seriously ill.

While not all incidents of contaminated ice machines lead to such horrible and tragic loss of life, the potential costs of owning and operating an ice machine can be staggering if the machine is not cared for correctly.

Consider:  tests have shown that as many as six in ten restaurant’s ice contains more bacteria than the water from their toilets.

It is not uncommon for people to assume that ice is too cold to contain bacteria. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Ice is very capable of playing host to any number of bacteria (both benign and harmful), which can be transferred to humans when ingested. There is also a misconception that ice machines themselves are inhospitable places for bacteria, but again this is incorrect. Ice machines offer bacteria a dark, warm environment perfect for breeding bacteria.

Luckily, a properly treated and cleaned ice machine will be free from harmful bacteria, but ice machine cleanings can be time-consuming and expensive. There is a better solution for maintaining a clean, bacteria-free environment in your ice machines.

 IceZone® is an ideal option for companies that want to cut down on their ice machine sanitation expenses, and save time. IceZone works by using UV oxidation to create an environment inside the ice machine that prevents the growth of contaminating slime that would otherwise spread throughout the ice machine. IceZone is a fully automated solution that is easy to install and works around the clock to protect your equipment, employees, patients, and customers alike. IceZone is certified to be safe and proven to be effective.

Learn more about IceZone by viewing our latest case study: IceZone Saves Restaurant Operator Millions on Ice Machine Cleaning.


IceZone Subway Case Study: IceZone Saves Restaurant Operator Millions


Biozone Scientific designs and manufactures ultraviolet light commercial and industrial applications, creating systems for virus disinfection and sanitation, preventative maintenance, and odor control solutions.

Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, we serve clients globally, with offices in 5 countries on 3 continents.


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