Tips for Using Your Berkel Slicer for Meats and Cheeses
Keep the Blades Sharp
Sharp blades are the key to having evenly sliced meats and cheeses. Blades that have become dull can make the meat seem somewhat minced or rough because the dull blades don’t cut through the meat in the same way as sharp blades. The shredding that can occur with dull blades won’t produce the quality of deli cuts that your customers expect from your company.
It is imperative that you use proper procedures when you are working on your Berkel slicer. Your owner’s manual will provide important information on how to safely maintain your slicer.
For example, when the blade is being changed, sharpened, or used, the person who is operating the unit should wear cut-resistant gloves. This helps keep the user safe from injury and also helps you keep in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s regulations that help ensure a safe workplace.
Double Check the Settings
Consistency is the key when you are making sandwiches and other dishes. Making sure that settings on the Berkel slicer are properly set can help ensure that the consistency remains. Even slight differences in the thickness of a cut can significantly alter the delicate balance of flavors that you have created in a dish.
It is a good idea to check the thickness setting each time you start the machine, even if the meat or cheese you are cutting is the same as the previous job. You should also check the first cut that comes off the meat or cheese when you first start a job. Once you verify that the first cut is what you need, you can move forward with the remaining slices.
Practice Proper Food Safety
Proper food safety practices must be followed each time you use the Berkel slicer. Failing to follow proper safety practices can cause people who consume the meats and cheeses that you slice to become ill. In fact, deli slicing equipment that isn’t properly cleaned and sanitized is one cause of food-borne illnesses that the United States Food and Drug Administration recognizes as a problem.
One way you can ensure that proper food safety practices are being used is to have the slicers marked to let employees know what to use the slicer for. If possible, don’t use the same slicer for cooked meats and raw meats. Even if you are cleaning the slicer after each use, there is still a chance of cross- contamination.
Clean the Unit After Each Use
Now that you are aware that you must practice safe food handling procedures, you probably realize how important it is to keep the Berkel slicer clean. It isn’t enough to simply wipe the unit down. Instead, it must be cleaned to ensure that areas that might accumulate food soil are clean. There are some specific areas that you must double check when you clean your Berkel slicer.
The slicer handle, ring guard mount, and blade guard are three areas of slicers that the FDA warns should be checked for food soil. When you check these parts of the slicer, make sure that you look for loose, cracked, or damaged areas since food soil and debris can be harbored there.
Besides cleaning the slicer after each use, the FDA recommends that slicers be sanitized and cleaned every four hours. This helps to remove pathogens that can lead to outbreaks of food-borne illnesses. Each Berkel slicer has a manual that details how you should clean and sanitize the unit. Keeping that manual near the work station can make it easier for the person who is doing the job to properly complete the procedure.
Have Spare Parts at the Ready
There are some instances in which you will need to replace a component of the slicer. Having some of the most common parts at the ready can help you to minimize the downtime that you will experience if you have to wait on parts to be delivered. Keeping a spare set of gaskets, blades, and guards at a minimum can help keep your slicer in business.
If you do have anything on your slicer that needs to be replaced, make sure that you follow the proper OSHA procedures for working with meat slicers. This includes either using the tag in/tag out method for the equipment or ensuring that the person doing the repair is the only person who can access the plug and power source.
Prepare for High Volume
If your company does a high volume of business, you should make sure that you are prepared for that volume. This might mean that you need to invest in more than one slicer. Having more than one slicer can also help you to avoid cross-contamination. Additionally, multiple slicers enable your business can stay up and running if something happens and you need to repair one slicer, because you will still have the other slicer or slicers that can slice meats and cheeses.