As with any piece of precision equipment, it’s important to clean and maintain your Berkel meat slicer. This will keep your slicer working at its optimum performance and ensure that it lasts a long time.
Clean The Slicer After Each Use
Many people believe just wiping down a slicer is enough, but that effort won’t eliminate bits of food that might accumulate in places that aren’t readily visible at first glance. There are three main areas that must be checked for food residue: the slicer’s handle, the blade guard and the ring guard mount.
While you’re checking these areas, keep in mind that you should also look for any cracked or loose parts which would make it easier for food to get into these areas. Make sure your employees don’t rush through the cleaning and checking process. Thoroughness is important, both for food safety purposes and to check for any parts that may need replacing.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that slicers be cleaned and sanitized every four hours. Of course, it’s also important to do this once you’re done with the machine for the day. Every Berkel machine comes with a manual containing instructions on how to do this. A good tip is to keep the manual near the machine so that the person using it has it at hand for referral purposes.
Sharp Blades Are A Must
The way to get the desired even slices is to keep the blades sharp. Dull blades can make ragged cuts because they won’t cut smoothly the way sharp blades do. Deli cuts with shredded edges aren’t as enticing to your customers as clean, sharp cuts.
Your owner’s manual contains information on how to keep the blades in top shape, and also other pertinent information. For example, any person who handles the blades, whether changing or sharpening, should wear gloves that resist cuts.
Keep The Settings Consistent
Consistent slices are important, not only for appearance, but for the actual taste of the final product. It’s good practice to check the thickness settings before starting the machine, even if you are cutting the same product as was cut during its last use. Checking the first slice off the machine for consistence is also a good idea.
Food Safety Is Imperative
With so much news available on the internet, the public is more mindful of food safety than every. Good food handling practices make for good reputations, and keep your business on the good side of any inspectors that may visit your business. Anybody operating the Berkel slicer should be thoroughly familiar with safe food handling practices in order to prevent any food-borne illness.
One very important practice is to have separate slicers for cooked and raw meats. You may even want a separate machine just for cheeses. Marking the machines as to what should be used in each one will ensure that there is no confusion. Even with cleaning and sanitizing practices, cross contamination can still be a problem.
Keep Spare Parts Handy
As with any machine, sometimes a part will have to be replaced. Since this usually seems to happen at the busiest times, it’s good practice to keep some of the most often replaced parts nearby. The cost of ordering spare parts ahead of time will be more than made up by the down time saved when one is needed. Nobody who owns a business wants to be hindered by a downed machine while waiting for replacements parts to be shipped.
Some of the more common parts that should be kept on hand including blades, guards and gaskets. Following OSHA procedures for handling slicers while doing repairs is imperative. For instance, only the person doing the repair should be able to access the machine’s power. Using the tag in and out procedure will ensure that nobody can be injured.
Analyze Your Customer Volume
Knowing your average demand, as well as the volume that occurs during busy times, will help you estimate the adequate machinery needed for your business. Your customer volume may easily mean that you need to have more than one slicer to handle the demand, especially if your business is just starting out. It will also ensure proper food handling techniques.
If one slicer needs a blade sharpened or replaced, or needs to be cleaned after four hours of use, your business won’t be down because you will have another operating slicer.
Your Berkel slicer has been manufactured to give you many years of good service and results. It just takes a little care and maintenance to ensure that your slicer keeps producing good product for your customers for a long time.