• Meat slicers are difficult to clean and have been associated with outbreaks of Salmonella and Listeria among other food borne illness pathogens.
  • Although FDA code requires cleaning meat slicers every 4 hours, it does not rigorously specify cleaning methodology.
  • To ensure longevity of component parts, operators should use only cleaning and sanitizing chemicals recommended by the equipment manufacturer.

Deli Down-Time

There are a myriad of potential causal factors of foodborne illness that require the diligence of food service establishments. The majority of concerns involve the human element but just as important is knowledge of proper sanitation of equipment that is most vulnerable to contamination.

Meat slicers are among the most difficult items to clean in retail food service establishments and are probably the most hazardous in harboring pathogens. Meat slicers have been associated with outbreaks of  Salmonella and Listeria among other foodborne illness pathogens.

Depending on the type of food service establishment, meat slicers often see random, intermittent use throughout the working day under ambient temperature conditions. There is little predictability to deli slicer downtime in a traditional delicatessen setting.

Read the Owner’s Manual

Manufacturers of meat slicers need to meet the requirements set forth in NSF/ANSI Standard 8: Commercial Food Preparation Equipment. However, cleaning procedures and frequency are sometimes left to the manufacturers’s recommendations. Although the FDA Food Code states that meat slicers must be taken apart and cleaned every four hours, it does not rigorously specify cleaning methodology such as the proper cleaning cloth to use.

The operators of the meat slicers have the responsibility to use the equipment properly by diligently seeing to their sanitation, maintenance, and operator safety per the manufacturers instruction manual.

Cracks can appear, with multiple cleanings, in the sealants between component parts becoming a vehicle for cross contamination. To ensure longevity of seal integrity, operators should use only cleaning and sanitizing chemicals recommended by the equipment manufacturer.

Some state health departments provide recommendations regarding meat slicers. These recommendations may include items such as:

Cleaning & Maintenance

1) Malfunction and durability issues will occur with slicers that are heavily utilized or that are older than one year, 2) Check sealant areas were plastic parts meet metal parts. Check for chipped, cracked or worn component interfaces, and 3) Check for sealant integrity with LED focused flashlights or UV inspection light.

Cleaning Methods & Frequency

1) Use wooden cotton tipped applicators to swab areas for cleanliness, 2) Demonstrate to employees cleaning procedure and frequency and 3) Verify sanitation of food contact surfaces and air drying before reassembly.

And as always, as with any food service equipment, especially those easily prone to contamination, strictly follow the recommendations of the equipment manufacturer, FDA Food Code and the local health inspectors.

Dr. Gary Russotti MD, MS
Idea Boxx – Director of Medical/Biochemical R&D and Regulatory Compliance

  1. Summarized from: Powitz, R. “ Sanitation in the Deli: Contamination-prone Equipment”. Food Safety Magazine. Nov 2009, p. 1-6.
  2. Image; https://www.popsugar.com/food/How-Tell-When-Lunch-Meats-Bad-2995824
  3. Image; http://www.dilussodeli.com/products