Service Agent Q&A with David Duckworth, director of field operations and training and development, Commercial Kitchen, San Antonio, Texas

FE&S: What are the cleaning requirements for standard mixers?

DD: As far as daily cleaning, these units should be wiped down on the outside with wet or damp cloths. Most mixers are not designed to be sprayed down as water can damage electrical components. Bowls also need to be removed and washed thoroughly, especially when used with dough, which could harden, clump and damage augers. Also, the lift area where the bowl sits has levers that lock the bowl in place. For sanitary reasons, this area should remain clean of food and dough buildup. It needs to move freely so the bowl doesn’t get knocked out of place. In addition, the attachments should be kept clean and washed after each use. If the mixer has air vents in back by the motor, these should be kept clear of flour and food debris to ensure cool air is filtered through the unit.

FE&S: Are there other components that need attention?

DD: Most mixers have automatic or manual lift mechanisms. Manual types should operate smoothly. If these are difficult to turn, operators should ensure there is no food debris built up.

FE&S: What are the safety concerns with mixers?

DD: Mixers can be dangerous if not maintained properly. The majority of these units require bowl guards. If these are not in place, the unit will not run. This ensures hands are kept out of mixing bowls. It’s imperative that bowl guards are working properly from a safety standpoint.

FE&S: What are signs a mixer needs service?

DD: Things to look out for in terms of problems differ, depending on the unit. The majority of floor models are gear-driven and oil-filled. Operators need to make sure there are no oil leaks out of the seals, which can contaminate product. Floor mixers typically have an oil gauge to check these levels. It’s important that the proper amount of oil remains; otherwise, this indicates a leak through the seal or backside. Tabletop mixers that are gear-driven use a thicker ball bearing type, so if there is grease leakage, it may be harder to see. Operators should ensure there is no oil seepage around the moving portion of the mixer that’s holding the attachment, or it can compromise food safety.