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June Cartoon: Cleaning and Sanitizing Forgotten Surfaces
Illustration of contaminated ice cream maker

In 2015, an outbreak of E. coli was reported at a restaurant in Reno, Nevada. More than 16 people were diagnosed with E. coli, with several more people experiencing symptoms. What was the cause of this outbreak? The workers had used the same mixer to make chocolate mousse cake as they did to make raw pork sausage. Because the workers neglected to clean and sanitize the mixer after making the sausage, the bacteria contaminated the chocolate mousse, sickening many people.

When it comes to cleaning and sanitizing, some surfaces and equipment or machines may accidentally be missed. Making a list of things to clean as well as how often they should be cleaned can help you ensure your food preparation equipment has been thoroughly cleaned. A few examples of machines that are often overlooked are ice makers, soda dispensers, and ice cream machines.

What to clean and when

Food-contact surfaces or equipment used to prepare time/temperature control for safety (TCS) food should be cleaned at least every 4 hours when in constant use or between tasks. This includes meat or cheese slicers, cutting boards and knives, and utensils used to mix or serve TCS foods. Thermometers used to take temperatures of food should also be cleaned between uses, including when you are taking multiple temperatures at the same time like on a buffet line. If a thermometer is not sufficiently cleaned, it can easily spread foodborne pathogens as well as allergens.

Uncommon food-contact surfaces and non-food contact surfaces should also be cleaned frequently to prevent dirt and debris from building up. Unlike food-contact surfaces that should be cleaned every 4 hours, timing can vary for non-food contact surfaces. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends cleaning microwaves at least once every 24 hours. Rubber gaskets on the refrigerator, vent hoods, and walls exposed to food splash should also be cleaned often enough to prevent debris buildup. If they are visibly dirty or contaminated, clean and sanitize them immediately.

What about clean-in-place (CIP) equipment?

Clean-in-place machines and equipment should be cleaned according to the manufacturer's instructions. Often, CIP equipment will have components that can be taken off and cleaned in a dishwasher or sink. If parts of the machine cannot be moved, follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning to ensure every piece is cleaned and the machine stays in good repair.

Ice maker machines are usually a CIP machine. It's also important to note that ice scoops used for ice machines should be stored outside the machine in a place that won't contaminate it. The pathogens from your hands can easily transfer to the ice if you put the scoop in the ice, which is why it's important to follow this simple step. Soda and ice cream dispensers should also be cleaned properly to keep the food and drinks safe to eat.

Taking these steps to keep your equipment clean and in good repair can help keep you and your customers safe. Check with your manager or the manufacturer if you have questions on how to clean and sanitize equipment used in your food preparation. For other cleaning tips and training, visit

— Janilyn Hutchings

Download/print cartoon: Contaminated Ice Cream Maker

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