If you're a meat lover, chances are you love sliced meats and use your meat slicer almost every day! Many people don't realize that not cleaning your meat slicer properly is incredibly harmful to you and your family.
Therefore, your meat slicer or meat grinder should be cleaned regularly to keep it safe for use.
But, it is also crucial to understand the correct methods to clean meat slicers. You should also know how often must a meat slicer be cleaned and sanitized when in constant use.
Why is it Vital to Clean A Meat Slicer?
Not only are meat slicers used for meats, but they can also be used to slice different deli items such as cheese, fruits, and vegetables.
When a meat slicer goes uncleaned, food residue can build-up, leaving behind a nasty growth of harmful bacteria. A huge food safety no-no.
Once your meat slicer or meat grinder becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, it can contaminate food, causing food poisoning and other illnesses.
Plus, not cleaning and sanitizing properly can transfer previous food particles, cross-contamination, and flavors onto other food items.
Mishandled food often leads to the growth of common bacteria called Listeria Monocytogenes (LM), which can also be found in cooked and processed foods.
Eating contaminated meats - like the ones found in an unclean meat slicer - may lead to listeriosis.
In the United States, listeriosis is one of the top causes of foodborne illness-related deaths among kitchen workers. .
So, cleaning a meat slicer often is vital for your health and your family's!
How Often Should You Clean and Sanitize A Meat Slicer?
For individual purposes, meat slicers and other kitchen equipment should be cleaned and sanitized well after every use. Commercial meat slicers must be cleaned every four hours though, especially if it is continuously in use.
When switching between meats, dairy products, and vegetables, the slicer must be wiped down and cleaned beforehand to ensure food safety. In-depth sanitizing using a sanitizer solution must be done once slicing has finished for the day.
Cleaning slicers well will not only prevent oil and food build-up - leading to bacteria - but it will also lengthen the lifespan of your meat slicer machine.
What's The Difference Between Cleaning and Sanitizing?
Sanitizing removes microorganisms, whereas cleaning only removes the dirt sitting on the surface.
When preparing food with the use of meat slicers and meat grinders, make sure that they are thoroughly cleaned and well-sanitized.
Cleaning and sanitizing must be done during the following:
- Always clean when switching between cooked and raw meat.
- Cleaning should take place when switching between meat, cheese, and vegetables.
- Leaving the meat slicer open during food preparation could cause contamination.
- If you use your slicer daily, it should be thoroughly cleaned afterward.
If the meat is being used commercially or continuously, the FDA recommends cleaning it every four hours. 
How to Clean a Meat Slicer
Before you go ahead and clean your meat slicer machine, it is important to remember these things:
- Always check the manufacturer's manual to find instructions about specific cleaning and maintenance guidelines.
- Wear protective cut-resistant gloves before handling and cleaning the meat slicer.
- Don't use abrasive materials like a steel wool scrub pad when cleaning the meat slicer. This can scratch the blades and damage them.
- The whole slicer shouldn't be submerged in water. Check the manufactures manual for specifications in which parts can be washed safely. This includes the center plate, face plate, blade guard, and handle.
A 7 Step Guide to Cleaning a Meat Slicer Machine
Here are some simple steps to cleaning your meat slicer machine efficiently:
Step 1: First, set the cut thickness to 0. Find a gentle scrub pad to wipe both sides of the meat slicer blade. The slicer should be moving, that's why it's essential to wear those protective gloves! Once you've managed to remove all the large food particles, you can unplug it.
Step 2: Make sure the gauge plate is in a completely closed position. Be careful with the sharpening stone and make sure it's not in the way. Carefully take out the slice deflector, product tray (food chute), and center blade plate. Softly rinse and wash all the parts with hot water, disinfectant, and soap. Leave them on the side to dry.
Step 3: You can either remove the slicer blade from the blade holder or clean it while it's in place. If you decide to remove it, make sure you handle it carefully while it's being cleaned and sanitized.
If you clean the blade while in a fixed position, clean the blade in an outward motion starting from the blade's center. Make sure there are no grease or food particles left. You can use hot water to clean the blade.
Step 4: Clean all the slicer's exterior and other remaining parts with a fresh, clean rag. Use a clean paper towel and hot water soap solution to rinse them.
Step 5: Use a meat slicer sanitizing solution in a spray bottle to coat the machine completely and let it dry.
Step 6: Oil the slide rods using a spray lubricant. Replace the blade, product tray, and faceplate when completely dry.
Step 7: Using a lint-free towel, dry the parts where water accumulates. Lubricate the parts to prevent corrosion, and replace the damaged components.
"Cleaning and inspecting in-use food slicers every 4 hours. Cleaning at this frequency, and inspecting for damage and debris, can reduce contamination of food sliced on the slicers."
- Environmental Health Services (EHS)
Meat Slicer Problem Points
When it's time for your meat slicer to be cleaned, there are a few parts that should be handled with special care. These are the ring guard mount, blade guards, mount, and handle of the slicer machine.
If there are any broken, cracked, or loose parts on the slicer, these parts usually gather blood and raw meat tissue.
Taking an extra minute or two to clean the slicers parts thoroughly may be the make or break of your cleaning routine.
Keep an eye on seals, seams, and the rubber gasket of the machine. You can replace these parts before they become worn out and damaged.
If you find out the gasket is damaged, it's best to replace it as soon as possible. These cracked and broken parts will become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Unless you can identify these problem points on the machine, it can become rather difficult to keep your machine clean.
Read More: How to Sharpen a Meat Slicer Blade
What should you not do when you clean the slicer?
Never use steel wool to clean your slicer, and never put it in a dishwasher machine. Also, never pressure wash or spray your machine.
At a minimum, how often should a meat slicer be cleaned and sanitized when in constant use?
Clean the slicer, meat grinder, or meat slicing machine thoroughly at least after every use. If constantly used, every 4 hours.
Should a meat slicer be cleaned after using cooked meat?
Yes. A meat slicer should be cleaned after every use, no matter what you're cutting. Even if you're slicing cheese, you should clean the blade after!
Conclusion - How Often Must a Meat Slicer Be Cleaned and Sanitized When in Constant Use?
So, how often must a meat slicer be cleaned? Basically, that all depends on how often you use it.
Generally, for home cooks, it should be cleaned after every use. During continuous usage, it's vital the slicer be cleaned every 4 hours or so.
It may seem like a lot of hassle, but when it comes to compromising the safety of your food items and your health - there's no question about it.
Always practice safety when handling the blade and make sure to clean it thoroughly as possible. If you do this, your equipment will live longer, providing you with tasty food for years to come!