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Ice cube alert: Viral YouTube video exposes dangers of unclean ice machines

By No Kyung-min

Published : May 13, 2024 - 14:25

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Components of an ice maker before cleaning (Screenshot of a video from the I am a Businessperson YouTube channel) Components of an ice maker before cleaning (Screenshot of a video from the I am a Businessperson YouTube channel)

Frequently used but unclean ice-making equipment at cafes and restaurants has stirred concern online due to a YouTube video that went viral, drawing attention to the potential health risks posed by ingesting ice cubes from such machines.

In an April video posted on the Korean YouTube channel, I am a Businessperson, (direct translation) featuring salespeople and other businesspeople, a cleaning service provider in his 50s, specializing in air conditioning and ice maker maintenance, underscores the prevalence of poorly maintained ice machines in cafes and the health hazards linked to consuming iced coffee with ice from them.

"Ice machines are prone to accumulating water, mold and bacterial growth," he explained, saying that without regular cleaning, such machines can potentially expose users to carcinogenic nickel compounds. Such machines could be linked to instances of stomachaches among consumers, although they might not attribute the problem to the ice from the ice machines, as it appears "clean," he said.

Yet, according to him, most of the neglect is unintentional, as both consumers and cafe owners are typically unaware of the sanitary conditions inside these machines. The labor-intensive and time-consuming process of disassembling them to access their interiors and clean each component individually exacerbates the issue.

He clarified that his appearance on the channel has to do with educating both consumers and cafe owners about the importance of regularly cleaning ice machines. “They (cafe owners) should clean the machines themselves or make use of a cleaning service. If only they were aware," he said.

In the comments section, concerns were raised about the sanitary conditions of commercial ice makers in big franchise cafes in particular, with one comment reading, "Is it safe to consume ice at big cafe franchises? The photos (of the insides of ice makers after use) are very concerning."

Another commentator who claims to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, mentioned avoiding consuming ice cubes at cafe and restaurant establishments completely: "Seven out of 10 times when I drink iced beverages outside, I get a stomachache."

Despite these concerns, some viewers expressed gratitude for the video. One commentator stated, “As a cafe owner, I had no idea about this. I'll take immediate action. Thank you for bringing this to my attention."

A component of an ice maker before being cleaned (Screenshot from a video on the I am a Businessperson YouTube channel) A component of an ice maker before being cleaned (Screenshot from a video on the I am a Businessperson YouTube channel)