Ice cream is a food product that is brought to a solid or semi-solid state by freezing. By adding various flavoring ingredients such as milk, fruits, nuts, etc., numerous different types of ice cream are created.
Hygiene from production to consumption
Microorganisms can either be introduced via the ingredients or enter the ice cream mass during production, storage or in the sales display case (e.g. via portioners). Although most bacteria no longer reproduce in frozen ice cream, they do not die or die slowly. If the ice cream thaws, pathogens such as salmonella can multiply. Therefore, hygienic handling and the use of flawless raw materials play a decisive role in the safety of the end product. In the case of industrially manufactured ice cream, production is usually fully automated.
Situation in Austria
Particularly during the peak season in the summer months, ice cream in Austria is subject to intensive controls as part of official food inspections. In the process, the ice cream is primarily examined for pathogens and contaminating germs (microbiological parameters).
The most frequent reasons for complaint were deficiencies due to increased contamination with various germs. Representatives of the Enterobacteriaceae family (typical intestinal bacteria) and Bacillus cereus were detected particularly frequently.
Other reasons that led to complaints were due to residues of cleaning agents or disinfectants used to clean and disinfect ice cream machines. Less frequently, ice cream samples were objected to due to faulty (sensory; assessment with regard to appearance, odor, taste) and prohibited colorants.
- In the online tool"Lebensmittel unter der Lupe" you can find the nutritional values of many ice cream products available in Austria.
- If ice cream is stored in the freezer at home, attention should be paid to the best-before date. With the best-before date, the manufacturer guarantees that the product will retain its full edibility at least until that date if stored properly. In general, however, exceeding the best-before date does not mean that a food is no longer fit for consumption.
- Look for discoloration, contamination or formation of ice crystals.
- If any abnormalities are detected when smelling or tasting, the ice cream should definitely no longer be consumed.
For the examination of microbiological parameters, the guideline and warning values of the German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology (DGHM) are used. Exceedances of guideline values frequently indicate weak points in the manufacturing process. Exceedances of warning values indicate that good manufacturing practice has been substantially violated. In both cases, compliance with microbiological criteria must be ensured on an ongoing basis, and self-monitoring measures (or raw material controls) must be continued or intensified.
Further information can be found in the Austrian Food Code.
Ice cream machine cleaning
The use of cleaning agents or disinfectants such as benzalkonium chloride (BAC, benzyldimethyldodecylammonium chloride) and didecyldimethylammonium chloride (DDAC) can lead to detectable residues in food. Therefore, maximum residue levels have been established in food or feed. These are regulated in Commission Regulation (EU) No. 1119/2014 of October 16, 2014.
These preparations for cleaning or disinfection often contain quaternary ammonium compounds (QAV). To avoid residues in the ice cream, it is essential that after cleaning the ice cream machines with cleaning agents containing QAV, they are rinsed several times with hot water or other more suitable (QAV-free) cleaning agents (disinfectants) are used.
In the "Analytical Services Catalog" you will find our analytical services for the analysis of ice cream samples.
Last updated: 10.10.2023