Bins of different ice cream flavors at an ice cream shop
11 Red Flags To Look Out For At Ice Cream Shops
Ice Crystals
Freezer burn, which appears as small ice crystals, can occur when a food's moisture decreases due to dehydration and worsens with exposure to oxygen.
Ice cream that has been stored properly is less likely to develop freezer burn. While it won't cause illness, it will negatively affect the ice cream's taste and texture.
Misleading Labels
Although there are strict regulations regarding what can and can't be labeled as ice cream, some vendors lean into creative license when describing their products.
Additionally, an "artisanal" label refers to small-scale production containing no preservatives and prioritizes fresh and local ingredients, but it isn't a regulated term.
Dirty Scoops
Allergies and intolerances are serious, so ice cream employees should rinse the scoop properly between flavors with fresh water to avoid contamination.
By this, we mean rinsing the scoop in fresh running water, whether it's a sink or a specific appliance. Besides allergies, neglecting to do so can result in mixed flavors.
A Bad Smell
If you detect an unpleasant odor at the shop, it could indicate poor waste management, especially if the shop makes ice cream on-site.
One common culprit is hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs. This odor is a big warning sign of potential food safety issues, so it's best to leave and find another shop.
Generic Products
Unless you're specifically visiting an ice cream shop that also sells its desserts in the supermarket, they shouldn't be scooping store-bought ice cream.
Distinct quality levels also come into play. A cone from an ice cream shop better be premium or super-premium — otherwise, you might as well grab a carton from the corner store.