Refrigerated prep tables tend to be unsung heroes in a lot of restaurants, commercial kitchens, and food prep establishments. Their temperature controls make them one of the best options for assembling sandwiches, salads, burritos, pizzas, and more. Not to mention their critical role with chocolatiers and high-end pastry chefs who rely on keeping ingredients at exact temperatures throughout the preparation process.
Refrigerated prep tables also play a critical role in making sure that your establishment meets all the necessary food health & safety codes. They keep perishable products refrigerated at a proper temperature for safe handling and preparation. They also ensure that everything stays from the start of each service to the end.
Of course, this temperature control, not to mention the use and abuse they endure in a single day can start to add up. As time goes on, it can affect performance, as well as put them at risk of breaking down.
Routine cleaning and sanitizing play a key role in maintaining the normal operating function of a refrigerator prep table. They are also critical for food safety code compliance. Not to mention keeping a clean prep table plays a key role in retaining loyal customers in kitchens where the guest actively watches you prepare the food, sandwich, salad, or burrito they are about to eat.
The Benefits Of Cleaning a Refrigerated Prep Table
Ensuring that your establishment’s refrigerated prep table continues operating properly, requires taking the time to clean and maintain it. This includes both in-service cleaning, daily cleaning, and periodic deep cleaning.
You need to always be mindful that refrigerated prep tables are used to store a wide range of ingredients. Multiple levels of cleaning are absolutely critical for preventing the growth of germs and bacteria, that could cause your customers to get sick. Not to mention the very real concerns about what could happen if the food inspectors shut your restaurant or establishment down due to improper cleaning practices at your refrigerated prep table.
Not only could this result in a short-term loss of income while your establishment is shut down, but it could also irreparably damage your reputation in the surrounding community, leading to a major loss of existing loyal customers. More than one professional restaurant has completely failed on the heels of a food code violation caused by an improperly cleaned or improperly maintained refrigerated prep table.
You also have to look at routine cleaning as a wise way to preserve a very serious investment. Improperly cleaning and lax maintenance can very easily lead to a refrigerated prep table’s components breaking down or malfunctioning. This can lead to a loss of revenue while you wait for an expensive repair, or need to outright replace your refrigerated prep table. This too can also be dooming to your reputation if your establishment prepares a guest’s meal in front of them.
How To Properly Clean & Maintaining Your Refrigerated Prep Table
Given all that can go wrong, it only makes sense to properly clean and maintain your refrigerated prep table. To do so requires a good understanding of the various components that require regular cleaning, which helps extend the life of your unit.
The first step is to consult the manual in case your refrigerated prep table requires specific cleaning instructions. If you can’t find the paper document a lot of restaurant appliances host PDFs and other digital documents available for free online download. This is one of those things that can be tempting to skip. Though if you fail to properly clean and disinfect your unit, foul odors and bacteria can form, which can make diners ill and could easily lead to a food safety violation.
Cleaning & Maintaining A Refrigerated Food Prep Table During Service
There are a great many sandwich shops, custom salad restaurants, and other custom order restaurants that prepare meals for guests while they watch. This direct, and intense level of scrutiny calls for the utmost professionalism when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing the work surface in between every preparation.
This means doing things like:
- Wiping down the food prep surface with an approved food-grade wipe or other cloth.
- Using a bench scraper to remove all loose materials and deposit them in a waste receptacle
- Cleaning up any accidental spills
- Keeping lids on all perishable ingredients covered when not in use
- Rotating stocks as needed
- Using a sanitized probe thermometer to check the temperature of all food items according to code
- Cleaning & maintaining all guards and protective glass as needed
Cleaning A Refrigerated Prep Table During Service
Maintaining a clean work surface during service and prep times is a critical first step. Though it should not be considered a deep clean, nor the be-all of necessary daily cleaning and maintenance. To ensure that you are providing your customers with the best quality food, and also staying within the reasonable bounds of the local food code, you should do the following things at the end of each day.
- Properly cover and securely store any ingredients kept in the unit.
- Meticulously wipe down the unit and its surfaces using water
- Clean all food prep surfaces with a mild food-grade detergent, and a warm cloth
- Disinfect cutting boards and worktops
- Temperature test all food receptacles
- Test the thermostats of all interior refrigeration compartments
- Thoroughly disinfect and clean the hood before closing and securing
- Check the expiration dates on all internal food stocks
- Carefully remove dust, dirt, and other debris from the condenser coil to prevent air from being blocked.
Weekly Or Monthly Cleaning & Maintenance
There are other measures you need to take care of that go beyond thoughtful daily cleaning. Making sure to address the following things on a weekly or at least every month will go a long way toward making sure that your refrigerated prep table keeps operating at peak performance. This includes:
- Checking and cleaning the condenser coil at least each month.
- Regularly check all of the gaskets to make sure there aren’t any leaks.
- Replacing any gaskets that aren’t in prime condition.
- Check the hinges on all doors accessing refrigerated compartments to ensure the door is attached properly.
Deep cleaning and maintaining your establishment’s refrigerated prep table isn’t just about providing your customers with clean, healthy food, or making sure that your restaurant is compliant with the food code. It’s also about preserving a major investment in your restaurant’s success.
If you need help with deep cleaning your refrigerated food prep table, you can always turn to the experienced technicians at Building Services Inc. We have specialists with years of experience, training, and access to professional-grade equipment who can help you with deep cleaning and monthly maintenance needs.