How to Clean a Meat Slicer
Meat slicers are used constantly in delis and grocery stores, but cafeterias, buffets, catering businesses, and other foodservice establishments also use them. You can slice and chip meats, cheeses, and produce with your machine, making it extremely versatile. Since slicers are used so often for a variety of foods, it's important to understand how to clean them. Eventually, your slicer will wear out and you'll need to replace it with a new one. Until that point, you should learn basic meat slicer maintenance and ways to keep up your meat slicer blade. Read on for information on how to clean a meat slicer, blade maintenance, and more.
Why It's Important to Clean a Meat Slicer
Slicers are used for a variety of deli items and can even be used to slice produce. When you don't regularly clean your slicer, food residue can build up in parts of the machine, causing bacteria to grow. This bacteria can contaminate foods and cause foodborne illnesses, which can make customers very ill! In addition, a meat slicer can transfer flavors or small food particles onto items you slice later, altering the pure taste or texture of your products.
Specific Problem Areas
Carefully monitor the ring guard mount, blade guard, and slicer handle on your meat slicer for any cracks, broken, or missing or unattached parts. Food particles can accumulate at ring guard mounts, inside your blade guards, and under your slicer handle. When food collects, it can breed and harbor dangerous bacteria.
Make sure you regularly examine the seams, seals, and gaskets on your machine to see if they've worn away and created additional cracks and crevices where food and bacteria can accumulate. You should never use a slicer that has missing, broken, unattached, or defective seals, seams, or gaskets. Remove this slicer from service and repair it before using it, as there may be dangerous trapped bacteria.
When to Clean Meat Slicer
You should always wipe your slicer down when switching meats, cheeses, or produce. It's a good idea to fully clean your machine every day to prevent oils and solid food pieces from building up on your blade or face plates and harboring potentially dangerous bacteria. The FDA actually recommends cleaning meat slicers every 4 hours if they're being used continuously, so you should clean your machine as frequently as possible.
How to Clean a Meat Slicer
Tips Before Starting
Always wear protective gloves. Cut-resistant gloves are best, and you should wear cut-proof metal gloves when handling the blade.Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Never use steel wool, or you may scratch your machine.
Never submerge the slicer. Read manufacturer's directions on which parts may or may not be placed in the dishwasher.
- Wipe off any large food particles. (Optional: You can also use a gentle scrub pad on a cleaning wand to wipe off either side of the blade as the slicer is in motion. Make sure your thickness setting is on zero. Most manufacturers won't allow you to disassemble your machine unless this is set to zero.)
- Make sure the slicer is unplugged and the switch is off.
- Make sure the gauge plate is in the fully closed position and the sharpening stone is out of the way.
- Remove product tray, slice deflector, and center plate.
- Wash, rinse, and sanitize removed items, and let them air dry.
If you have a blade removal tool, carefully remove blade. If you leave the blade in place, be very thorough when you clean it.
- Create a soapy cleaning solution of 50/50 hot water and dish soap – or – find a degreaser spray.
- Clean front and back sides of blade with the water solution or degreaser spray, wiping from the center outward.
- Clean the center of the slicer behind the blade.
- Wipe down the exterior and all remaining parts of the slicer.
- Rinse with hot water using a clean towel.
- Sanitize with a meat slicer sanitizer spray. Use a spray bottle to coat the machine, and let the unit air dry.
- Lubricate the slide rods using a spray lubricant.
- Once the slicer is dry, replace the blade, face plate, and product tray.
If there are any areas on your slicer where water seems to accumulate, dry the areas with a non-linting towel, and lubricate them to prevent rust or corrosion. You may need to replace gaskets or other components if they're collecting water. See our step-by-step video for more details.
Meat Slicer Blade Maintenance
Follow these simple tips to increase the longevity of your slicer's blade.
- You should frequently clean your meat slicer blade and sharpen it with a sharpening stone.
- Only sharpen a clean blade, and be sure to clean disinfect your blade after sharpening.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Have your machine serviced routinely as recommended by the manufacturer.
Now that you know how to clean a meat slicer, you can keep the one in your deli, grocery store, or restaurant in premium condition. Be sure to regularly inspect your machine for any damaged components or food buildup. When you're consistent with meat slicer maintenance, you can increase the lifespan of your unit and reduce the chances of contaminating food.