We can't stress enough how important food safety is, particularly in the home kitchen. It's incredibly easy to accidentally introduce bacteria into food when preparing it which can cause food to spoil or make someone sick. Foodborne illness is among the most common illnesses suffered by Americans, and it is totally preventable. One of the most common places that bacteria can get spread around is due to a meat slicer.
Why It's Important to Clean a Meat Slicer
The first time that you find rotten meat on a slicer, a knife, or pretty much anywhere else, you'll never forget it. Raw meat goes rancid rather quickly and breeds harmful bacteria like crazy. Meat slicers have a ton of places where raw meat can hide, and even if the slicer looks clean, there may be unseen food particles hiding out. Cross-contamination is one of the most common ways harmful bacteria cause illnesses and it's easy for a dirty meat slicer to be the culprit.
Types of Illnesses From Raw Meat
Some of the most common harmful bacteria you'll find in raw meat include E. Coli, Salmonella, and C. Perfringens. In most cases, these bacteria cause upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, and cramping. Severe cases can lead to hospitalization.
How Often Should You Clean Your Meat Slicer?
Right after using a meat slicer, you should clean it. It's also important to clean your meat slicer any time you change from one type of meat to another, and most importantly when going from raw meat to something that isn't going to get cooked like cheese or smoked sausage.
It's even a good idea to wipe down your meat slicer before you use it just to make sure that you get every bit of food particles and possible problems. We love using our 10" and 7.5" meat slicers from MEAT! and keeping them clean is part of the proper maintenance that goes into owning and using meat slicers.
Specific Problem Areas
There are a few areas that require more attention than others, and they should be a priority to clean every time you use the meat slicer. The most obvious is the slicer blade. Make sure to detach the blade from the slicer after making sure the slicer is unplugged. Check both the face and the back of the blade to make sure they are clean.
With the blade off, you'll be able to check the blade guard. Ensure the blade guard is completely clean. This is also the time to inspect the plate behind the blade that covers the motor and drive mechanism. This is an area that tends to have lots of nooks and crannies for bacteria to hide in.
You'll also want to make sure that the sliding table and the guard are clean. This is one of the most common problem areas that is also the easiest to clean.
Tips for Cleaning a Meat Slicer
Cleaning meat slicers doesn't have to be a big ordeal. If you keep yours clean, the process is fast and won't require lots of special products or very much work. Things that we highly recommend are cut-resistant gloves and a clean towel. Paper towels also work well for cleaning the meat slicer. You should never have to use steel wool to clean a meat slicer and it isn't a good idea anyway since the steel fibers can get trapped in the slicer.
One of the best products for cleaning a meat slicer is warm soapy water in a spray bottle. Dish soap makes a great soapy water solution for removing most of the dangerous bacteria on the slicer. A solution of bleach and water is another great way to make sure that 99.9 percent of bacteria that cause food poisoning are killed when cleaning a meat slicer. A bleach water wash will sanitize and clean.
What Is the First Step When Cleaning a Meat Slicer?
After using a meat slicer you should unplug it before beginning to disassemble and clean the slicer. Start by removing the meat slicer's blade, being careful when handling it. We recommend that you wear protective gloves when cleaning the blade. It is very sharp and can very easily cause serious injury. Clean it first and put it off to the side somewhere that it won't fall or accidentally be grabbed by someone who is unaware of how sharp it is.
Light Slicer Cleaning
You can perform a light cleaning after using a meat slicer for something like summer sausage or smoked cheddar cheese. Simply wash and dry the meat slicer blade and make sure there are no trapped bits of food in the guard or in the gaps around the motor cover. Use soapy water or a bleach-water rinse to wipe down all areas, but don't use too much water. You don't want to cause corrosion problems by letting too much water enter the housing.
Disassemble the sliding table and food guard and wash them with soapy water. Use a clean towel to wipe down the housing, on/off switch, and food chute on the back of the slicer.
Using another clean towel, dry the slicer and reassemble it, making sure to handle the meat slicer blade carefully.
Full/Deep Slicer Cleaning
After using a meat slicer you should plan on deep cleaning if slicing messy meat like a smoked tri-tip. Start by disassembling the meat slicer the same way as you would for a light cleaning, but also remove everything else that you can. This includes pulling the plate that covers the motor and the blade guards, along with the slide rods, slice deflector, and the gauge plate.
A gentle scrub pad and a bleach water rinse will work well to get the large food particles cleaned up. Use cotton swabs to clean the hard-to-reach cracks and make sure every possible spot is clean. Wipe everything down with a clean towel and clean water to remove any bleach from the slicer.
A Clean Meat Slicer
If you clean the meat slicer after every use, it will stay clean and work better for longer without the risk of causing illness. You can keep a meat slicer sanitary using common household ingredients. The key thing is to never immerse the slicer in water, it should only be wiped down. If you regularly clean your meat slicer, it will always be ready for use and look as good as new.
The Bearded Butchers are dedicated to providing as much information as we possibly can to help you understand how to best process and prepare meats of all kinds. To help you, we maintain a blog and Youtube channel with lots of free, high-quality information. The Bearded Butchers and Beardedbutchers.com are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means that The Bearded Butchers may receive a commission if you click on a link above and make a purchase on Amazon.com.