Breaking the Ice: Amarillo officials regulate sanitary ice production

Most of the ice consumed in Amarillo comes from the the city's water system, a requirement for local food service businesses.

"Any place that serves food or drink to customers is inspected and permitted by our office," said Environmental Health Supervisor Deree Duke. "One of the things we make sure of is that they're getting their water from an approved source. We're very fortunate here because our water is extremely safe, and the ice that is made from the water is extremely safe."

Thanks to the City of Amarillo's Water Treatment Plant, ice served in local restaurants is up to state and federal code.

"We filter the settled water which has already been coagulated and settles out, and we treat it with alum sulfate for the coagulation process," said City of Amarillo Director of Utilities Emmett Autrey. "The main body of the filters is anthracite coal, particles that are around a millimeter plus or minus in size, which is the size that will take out any remaining particles that are left in the water after it goes through the settling process."

The water distribution plant is doing more than getting water from the source to restaurants and businesses. They're also taking extra measures to ensure a clean product for local residents.

"We take approximately 1500 bacteriological samples per year in the distribution system to make sure that we don't have any bacterial regrowth or anything like that," said Autrey.

Autrey said

making sure ice is safe for consumption is more than just ensuring the water is clean. Food inspectors in Amarillo are also make sure the handling and storage of ice is up to U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards.

"We'll take a look at where the ice is stores, what utensils come in contact with it, and make sure that it's clean, sanitized, and ready for the consumer to enjoy

," said Duke.
"Ice is just like any other food, anything that you put in your mouth, and it can become contaminated from unclean surfaces."