Soft-serve ice cream machines can add a whole new layer of fun for your customers. But like any other machine, they need to be well maintained for a lifetime of frozen goodness. If you're not familiar with what to do, here are four tips for keeping your ice cream machine clean and your desserts safe and yummy.
Understand the Hazards
There are three main threats to the cleanliness of your ice cream machine and subsequently what comes out of it. They include chemical, biological, and physical hazards.
Chemicals come from products like cleaning supplies or pest control spray. Biological threats include bacterial or viral germs and parasites. And physical hazards are things you can typically see with your eyes like hair, name tags, chunks of dirt, etc.
When you're aware of the hazards, it's easier to understand the importance of cleanliness and how to go about preventing them from visiting your establishment.
Train Your Employees
Since your employees will be taking care of the tasks involved in cleaning, training them is a vital step. If necessary, contact your ice cream machine's manufacturer and see if they can send a rep out to demonstrate maintenance tasks. A lot of companies actually do this when they're installing the equipment. So if it's a new purchase, it should be fairly simple. All staff should know where cleaning supplies are kept and how to safely use them so food, equipment, and utensils don't get contaminated.
It's also important to keep in mind the various education levels of your employees, particularly if you have some for which English is a second language. Be sure to have instructions for maintenance available in their language, and, when possible, post instructions that have pictures for visual cues. Don't assume that all of your employees grasp information at the same level.
Ensure Proper Hygiene
Clean equipment begins with proper hygiene and thorough hand-washing. This is pretty much a requirement everywhere, but there's a right way to do it in order to prevent the spread of germs, not only to food but to your ice cream machine as well.
When to wash. Employees should wash their hands after using the bathroom, before preparing food or handling equipment and utensils, after touching any body part that hasn't been cleaned (scalp, upper arms, another person, etc.), after coughing or sneezing, after eating or drinking, after handling dirty equipment, when going from handling raw food to ready-to-eat food, and after any activity that could soil the hands.
How to wash. Wash hands and arms under warm water, lathering with soap for a full 10-15 seconds before rinsing and drying. Also, a few interesting things have been noted in hand-washing studies:
- Warm water that's 120 degrees kills more germs than washing in cool water
- Automatic (no touch) hand washers are highly effective at getting hands clean
- Single-use paper towels are more effective at removing germs (as opposed to air dryers or roll towels)
- Washing for 3 minutes or longer can actually be harmful as it pulls up germs that hide in deeper layers of the skin
Consider presenting this information to your employees during routine training sessions. And make sure they know that washing hands in a sink that's used to prepare food is off limits.
Clean the Equipment
Get familiar with your local health codes before coming up with a cleaning schedule. In most cases, it will need to be done anywhere from once a day to three times a week. Anything less than that and you run the risk of one of the three aforementioned threats contaminating your ice cream.
Your soft-serve ice cream machine should come with cleaning instructions if you aren't successful with getting a rep to come by. It should also come with brushes that can be used to scrub the hopper and other small parts. The entire process generally involves emptying the machine, taking it apart, cleaning with hot, soapy water followed by a thorough rinse, and putting the machine back together.
One of the biggest questions your employees may have is whether or not any unused ice cream can be saved for later. A lot of it will depend on how quickly it can be removed and stored. With some machines, the ice cream will have to melt a little before it can be scooped out. And in these situations, it's probably best to dispose of it.
Cleaning the outside of the machine is equally important. Air-borne germs and particles of dust and dirt can land on the surface, not to mention flies and other insects. This is something that can easily be done several times a day. And it not only makes for clean equipment, but it keeps it looking great on the outside. Consider contacting an ice cream machine service like Taylor Freezer Sales Of Arizona for more help.