Slime Slops Into Sodas, Manager Too Busy To Clean Ice Machine

Reader Nora works at a restaurant where the new manager is too busy to mitigate the black slime growing in the ice machine, even though sometimes it plops into people’s drinks. At left is a picture she took with her cellphone of the mold colony.

She writes:

A customer found some kind of black gunk in an ice cube after trying to get a fountain drink. We were aware then after checking the ice machine that there was mold growing inside. The problem was, how would we clean it? We would have to turn on the machine, let all of the ice melt, clean it, and then have to wait for it to make more ice.

There have been numerous occasions of people finding black stuff floating in their drink. About a 3 months ago, the company assigned a new district manager for our store. On her first visit she did an inspection of the store, and even commented on the mold problem.

I’ve tried saying something to our new manager, but he says something along the lines of its not his number one concern right now, and we’ll get around to it when thing arent so hectic (we recently switched operating systems and everyone is still adjusting, but thats not really a valid excuse). I even went as far as to make a fake e-mail address, make up a story about finding black stuff in my cup, and that I wanted to inform them so something could be done. That was over a month ago with no response.

I just want our store to be clean and fit for customers to get ice and not have to worry about whether or not theres mold in it. I have attached some (crappy) pictures I took with my cell phone.

Gross! Slime! In people’s cups! It’s not going to harm anything, just your bottom line when customers find slime in their drinks and they tell their friends.

moslime.jpgFirst off, put in one giant order of ice to your distributor to hold you over while you clean the machine. It’s pretty cheap. You don’t have to sit around waiting for all the ice inside the machine to melt, hot water will greatly speed the process!

You’ll want to clean out the ice machine and sanitize the interior and the lines using quaternary ammonium (QAC) at 200 parts per million. The process houstontx.gov recommends is to first wipe the condensation from the ice machine surfaces. Then take a clean cloth, moisten it with sanitizer, wring it so it won’t drip, and then wipe down the surfaces.

They also recommend cleaning out the entire inside of the machine as many times as twice a week.

If just mentioning this method for getting rid of the slime doesn’t work, present your manager with an action plan to make it easier for them to say “yes.” Outline the new cleaning procedure and price out the supplies and the rate at which they’ll need to be purchased. Volunteer to lead a training session showing the other employees the new ice machine cleaning procedure. Add references to official gov and business reports on dealing with the slime in the ice machine problem. Describe a scary pyramid of people that shows the negative effects of one customer finding black gunk in their soda and then telling five people about it and then they tell five people, etc.

The famed late consumer reporter Marvin Zindler made a career out of embarrassing local restaurants by reading bad health reports on air, accompanied by a custom “SLIME IN THE ICE MACHINE!” jingle. Show your manager a few of his videos on YouTube to drive home the impact of bad publicity.
You’ll take the burden of dealing with the issue off your manager’s back, get the slime problem taken care of and distinguish yourself as an employee with initiative.

If your manager turns down your plan and doesn’t take action, there’s always the option of making an anonymous report to the local health department.

Good luck!