Damaged food equipment will harbour microorganisms and allow for the accumulation of dirt. Loose parts or broken elements of food equipment may cause physical contamination of food. It is therefore important that they are maintained in good condition. Plastic, in particular, can become brittle over time and become difficult to clean. Even equipment such as sieves and frying baskets may often wear over time and become a potential source of metal contamination. Visual checks must be made on equipment frequently and any defects, damage or missing parts must be reported to the manager directly and recorded on the daily/weekly diary. Equipment must be taken out of service is there is a chance of food contamination.
Complex equipment or equipment with moving parts tend to be more difficult to clean. It is therefore best to use separate equipment for raw and ready-to-eat food items (or items that are going to be consumed without cooking). This includes vacuum packing and mincing equipment which should be clearly labelled ‘raw meat only’ and ‘cooked foods’ (or similar) in order to distinguish uses. Vacuum bags and associated equipment must also be kept separate.
Staff must always store food equipment in clean conditions away from sources of potential contamination. Equipment may be turned upside down or wrapped to prevent contamination. Equipment that is not used on a daily basis should be cleaned before use. Where equipment is used for mixed purposes it must be suitable for such a use; in that any component parts may be removed and cleaned/disinfected appropriately.
Wooden equipment is generally not permitted as it will harbour microorganisms and become easily scored (wooden chopping blocks are permitted for raw meat preparation though in certain circumstances e.g. where a considerable amount of butchery takes place). Jointed boards should be avoided. Wooden serving platters may be used if they are made of durable hard-wood, cleaned effectively and do not come into direct contact with food. Any split wooden equipment must be disposed of.
All equipment must be washed and/or disinfected appropriately between uses to prevent cross-contamination.
Learn more about food safety here.