If you’re a food handler, you know cleaning out the popcorn machine or the deep fryer can be a pain. But do you understand how those tasks protect your customers from getting sick?
Dirty kitchen equipment attracts all sorts of unwanted visitors, whether they’re pests like rodents and cockroaches or biological hazards like bacteria and viruses. It might even have physical hazards like pieces of dry, crusty food.
The key to keeping food safe from potential contamination is keeping equipment clean and in good condition.
How to clean equipment in place
If the equipment you’re cleaning is small, you can put it through the dishwasher or wash it in a three-compartment sink. But when you’re cleaning something big, the process is a little different. Instead of moving the equipment to a cleaning area, you’ll have to move your cleaning supplies to the equipment.
This method of cleaning is called cleaning in place, and you should use it anytime you have to clean equipment that can’t easily be moved.
Check out our Cleaning in Place poster to learn how to clean and sanitize this type of equipment step by step. You can reference the poster the next time you have to clean your fridge, oven, freezer — or the aforementioned popcorn machine and deep fryer.
Create a cleaning schedule
The FDA Food Code requires you to clean kitchen equipment at least once every 24 hours. For you, that probably means cleaning in place during the closing shift or at a slow time.
No matter what time works best at your establishment, food managers should establish a cleaning schedule. Using a cleaning schedule will help ensure that the food preparation surfaces, utensils, and equipment in your kitchen stay clean and sanitized.
Of course, there are some situations when you need to clean food-contact surfaces at an unscheduled time. Food-contact surfaces, including cutting boards and utensils, should be cleaned and sanitized between tasks or after four hours of continuous use. You should also clean your equipment anytime you think it might have become contaminated.
If you get an allergen-free order, you also need to clean and sanitize all your equipment before preparing the order. This will help prevent cross-contact and keep your customers with allergies safe.
As you keep your equipment clean and sanitized, you’ll help keep your establishment free of pests and biological contaminants.
For more tips on cleaning and sanitizing, check out our food handlers course.
— Jessica Pettit