Few kitchens these days have the time or, more importantly, the manpower to facilitate peeling, julienning, brunoising, dicing, slicing, mixing or whipping by hand yet the customer demand for ingredients freshly prepared on site continues to grow.
This is where food prep equipment comes to the rescue but not only is it necessary to get the right tools for the job, you need to look after them too.
Steve Elliott, managing director of Serviceline offers some key maintenance tips.
- Mixing machines can cause serious injury if not used correctly; safety guards and stops are there to protect the operator. They should not be used to stop the machine in normal operation i.e. do not allow staff to operate the safety guard to stop the machine to add ingredients or stir the contents. Always use the control panel to start and stop mixing machines. Some mixers, when stopped using the safety guard only, will restart without resetting the gears and starting to stir a heavy batch of dough in 4th gear will overload the motor which may burn out the gearbox or belt drive.
- If you have more than one mixer from different manufacturers, make sure you keep the tools separate. Damage may occur if they are fitted to the incorrect machine. Do not allow staff to place cutter blades on their edge as this will cause blunting. Tapping a mixer whip on the edge of the bowl will damage the wires, so use another method to remove the food mix from the whip such as scraping with a spoon. Mixers by their design are top heavy and should be lifted with care. A risk assessment must be carried prior any attempt to move mixers to ascertain whether the mixer can moved safely without use of lifting equipment. If the mixer is moved, use the correct lifting points and support correctly. Do not, at any time, attempt to lift the mixer by means of the shaft or attachments.
- If the unit fails to function ensure that it is plugged in securely and that isolator/switch is on, also make sure there is no damage to the power cable and/or plug. All power leads to machines should be checked regularly for wear or damage and replaced or reported as necessary. Portable appliances fitted with 13amp plugs should be checked for visible signs of damage to the mains cable and plug every time they are used.
- Food mixers and processors can "walk" under heavy load, and become unstable. Equipment should be secured to the floor or work surface to avoid accidents.
- If your food mixer has oil dripping down the attachment/planetary shaft or from the drip cup, an oil seal may have failed. Have it checked by a service engineer before possibly contaminating the food mix.
- Slicers have a blade sharpening tool provided when new, this should be used regularly to maintain the slicer's performance. Make sure that the blade removal tool is used when taking the blade off for cleaning.
- Putting part-frozen products through a veg prep unit can damage the blades, so make sure everything is defrosted first.
- Always check bags of potatoes for any stones before feeding them into peelers and chippers to avoid any damage.
Serviceline(01438 363 040) provides professional kitchen maintenance and repairs nationwide.