Properly cleaning and maintaining slicers reduces the risk of bacteria growth and cross-contamination. Slicers face some significant sanitation issues if not properly addressed. Operators should not take any shortcuts with cleaning and maintenance tasks.
Due to their sharp blades, slicers can be dangerous to keep clean. Train the people doing the cleaning to properly perform this task and equip them with the proper tools. Wear cut-resistant gloves and safety goggles during the cleaning process. The equipment manufacturer usually has specific instructions, and sometimes special tools, to perform proper cleaning and maintenance.
Follow the operational manual when disassembling the slicer. The slicer should always be put in the safe mode by returning the product fence to the zero position. Then, turn off all switches and unplug the unit from the power supply.
Clean slicers with antibacterial soap and hot water, and sanitize them after each use. For food safety reasons, thoroughly clean a slicer blade and table before switching to any foods that guests will eat raw. Never use a power sprayer to clean slicers.
If used for continuous slicing, thoroughly clean the unit’s blade and carriage table every two to four hours. Remove food chutes for cleaning. Operators can place some slicer components in the dishwasher for easier cleaning.
When reassembling the unit after cleaning, users should look for signs of wear on all parts and be sure that all safety guards, scrapers and covers are in place and fit properly.
Depending on the amount of use, basic slicer maintenance includes sharpening the blade and oiling the transport rod and carriage rod.
Ensure the slideways and all mechanicals are clean and lubricated. Always use silicone-free food-grade oil — nontoxic, odorless and tasteless — on all the slides and moving mechanical components. Never use cooking spray, olive oil or vegetable oil to lubricate a slicer as this will result in moving parts seizing up.
Motors are usually sealed and are thus maintenance-free. Antibacterial protection on knobs, handles and other key slicer parts can impede bacterial growth and help improve food safety. Permanently mounted knife covers allow cleaning without exposing the blade, while removable carriage systems provide easy cleaning and sanitation.
Make sure the power cord is free and clear of all stress fractures or breaks and the strain relief is present.
Operators should be aware of specific signs that indicate it may be time to replace the unit. Broken or malfunctioning parts can impact the slice quality and impact the operator’s ability to properly clean the slicer. Depending on the replacement and repair costs, broken components may signify a new unit is necessary.
If menu changes result in increased slicing volume, especially with different food items, a new and/or an additional slicer may be necessary to keep up with production and decrease the risk of cross-contamination.
A cracked base or other excessive signs of wear can impact the integrity of the slicer in terms of food safety and operation. Especially with older units, replacement should be considered.
Increasing service calls and repair costs represent signs that a slicer may be near the end of its service life.
Have a professional regularly inspect the slicer and sharpen the blade to avoid over sharpening; this causes excessive wear on the blade and will result in premature replacement.