A national survey on the microbiological quality of ice cream, conducted by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in 2001 found that over half of the samples tested unsatisfactory for Aerobic Colony Count (ACC) and over 6 percent were unsatisfactory for Enterobacteriaceae–a family of bacteria including Salmonella and E. coli and other non-harmful bacteria.
According to the FSAI, “Both ACC and Enterobacteriaceae are indicators of hygiene and microbiological quality. Their presence at unsatisfactory levels highlighted the need for hygiene improvements during the handling and service of whipped ice cream.”
To combat the high levels of ACC and Enterobacteriaceae, FSAI published and distributed an informational leaflet to promote the best practices for the those in the ice cream business.
In 2008, they conducted a follow up study to see if ice cream hygiene and microbiological quality had improved.
The 2008 findings showed that while the unsatisfactory levels of ACC dropped from just above 50 percent in 2001 to 35 percent in 2008, there was no significant change in the Enterobacteriaceae results.
The FSAI attributes the drop in unsatisfactory levels of ACC to the increased use of self-pasteurizing machines, and also to improved food handling practices.
Cleaning procedures and frequency significantly improved. A survey by the FSAI found that 96 percent of samples obtained from ice cream machines had been cleaned within the recommended timeframe to prevent contamination.