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Maintenance and Cleaning Tips for Food Mills: Keeping Your Equipment in Top Shape

November 23, 2023 6 min read

Maintenance and Cleaning Tips for Food Mills: Keeping Your Equipment in Top Shape - Maria's Condo

Food mills are essential tools for food production companies, beverage manufacturers, and foodservice operators. They allow for efficient processing and handling of various food products, ensuring consistency and quality. To keep your food mill in top shape and maintain its performance, proper maintenance and cleaning are crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with expert tips and step-by-step instructions on how to clean and care for your food mill.

1. Introduction

Food mills play a crucial role in food processing and handling, allowing for the efficient separation of puree or sauce from seeds, skins, and other unwanted particles. However, maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in food mills is of utmost importance to prevent bacterial contamination and ensure the safety of the food products produced. In the following sections, we will guide you through the proper cleaning and maintenance techniques for food mills.

2. The Importance of Proper Cleaning and Sanitizing

One common mistake made by many food production companies and foodservice operators is assuming that a visually clean food contact surface is also sanitary. Bacteria such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli) can be resistant to traditional cleaning agents, making it essential to properly clean and sanitize food mills to eliminate the risk of contamination.

Cleaning and sanitizing are two separate procedures that should be performed in sequence. Cleaning involves the removal of organic material, such as dirt, soil, and debris, from the visible surface of the food mill. This step is crucial as organic matter can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria. Sanitizing, on the other hand, aims to reduce the number of bacteria and other microorganisms to safe levels for human health.

3. Step 1: Remove Debris

The first step in cleaning your food mill is to remove any debris or soil deposits from the food contact surfaces. Use a lint-free cloth or wipe to physically remove dirt, large particles, proteins, lubricants, and other residues. You can also use scrapers, dry floor push mops, brushes, or vacuuming to collect soil and dust. It is important to thoroughly remove all visible soil deposits before proceeding to the next step.

4. Step 2: Rinse All Residues

After removing debris, it is essential to rinse the equipment to remove any remaining residues. Use warm potable water (less than 120°F/48.9°C) for rinsing. Avoid using water that is too hot, as it may cause soil and particles to become adherent to the surface, making it difficult to remove. High-pressure hoses should be avoided as they can aerosolize soils and chemicals onto already cleaned areas. Additionally, high-pressure methods may damage processing equipment.

In dry processing environments, where moisture can lead to mold and bacterial growth, interim dry-cleaning methods should be used instead of rinsing. Thoroughly wipe down the equipment using pads, brushes, or dry lint-free towels with a suitable cleaning solution for food contact surfaces. If necessary, alcohol-based wipes or solvents that dry quickly can be used as a substitute for rinsing in dry areas.

5. Step 3: Apply Detergent and Scrub

To effectively remove fat and protein residues, it is important to apply chemical cleaners specifically designed for food mills. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper dilution rates and contact times. Diluting the detergent correctly is crucial, as over-diluted solutions may be less effective, while high concentrations can lead to product adulteration and safety issues.

Manual scrubbing of surfaces, especially using a registered foaming agent, is strongly recommended to enhance the cleaning process. However, in dry processing environments, dry/low-moisture steam or a minimal amount of water with detergent can be used, followed by a rinse and alcohol-based sanitizer. It is crucial to ensure that contact surfaces are moisture-free before resuming production.

6. Step 4: Give a Thorough Rinse

After cleaning with detergent and scrubbing, it is important to thoroughly rinse the equipment to remove any detergent residue. A final rinse with potable water is necessary to ensure the complete removal of detergent. Without a thorough rinse, the sanitizer used in the next step may be neutralized by any remaining detergent on the surface. The water used for rinsing can be warmer than the initial rinse.

In dry areas, rinsing is not recommended unless separate cleaning areas are available for equipment parts. If a minimal amount of water is required to remove soils in dry areas, surfaces must be completely dry before applying a sanitizer or disinfectant.

7. Step 5: Inspect and Spot Clean

After rinsing, carefully inspect the food contact surfaces for any visible signs of residue or detergent. Pay special attention to hard-to-reach places that may require extra cleaning. In foodservice establishments, certain commercial food equipment may have inaccessible areas that cannot be cleaned by hand. For such equipment, manufacturers must provide written clean-in-place (CIP) instructions to ensure proper cleaning and sanitizing.

If you are a foodservice operator, be aware of equipment like beverage dispensers, ice machines, soft-serve ice cream dispensers, and blenders that may have food zones that are not cleanable by hand. If the equipment is certified to an NSF/ANSI standard, the manufacturer should provide CIP instructions for cleaning inaccessible areas.

8. Step 6: Sanitize or Disinfect

To further reduce bacterial load and ensure food safety, apply an effective sanitizing or disinfecting chemical suitable for use in food and beverage processing or handling environments. It is important to understand the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting. Sanitizers and disinfectants both kill microorganisms, but disinfectants are generally more effective at killing a wider range of microorganisms, albeit at a slower rate.

Choose a sanitizing or disinfecting chemical that has been verified as safe for use in food processing facilities or restaurants. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper dilution rates, contact times, and application methods. Keep in mind that some disinfectants may contain stronger chemicals, but this does not necessarily mean they are dangerous to use in a food processing facility or restaurant.

9. Step 7: Dry and Store

After sanitizing or disinfecting, allow the food mill to air dry completely. Ensure that all surfaces, including hard-to-reach areas, are moisture-free before storing the equipment. Moisture left on the surface can lead to corrosion and bacterial growth. Once dry, reassemble the food mill if necessary and store it in a cool, dry place.

In dry processing environments, where the food mill needs to remain dry, disassemble the equipment and clean all removable parts separately. Thoroughly dry the parts before returning them to the equipment area for sanitizing and reassembly. Lightly coat the food mill's burrs with mineral oil if it will be stored for an extended period. Before the next use, hand wash the burrs to remove the mineral oil.

10. Additional Tips for Maintenance and Care

  • Regularly inspect the food mill for any signs of wear, damage, or malfunction. Replace worn or damaged parts promptly to maintain optimal performance.
  • Keep a supply of replacement screens and augers on hand, especially during peak production periods.
  • Train staff members on proper cleaning and maintenance procedures to ensure consistent hygiene practices.
  • Follow any specific cleaning and maintenance recommendations provided by the food mill manufacturer.
  • Keep a record of cleaning and maintenance activities for regulatory compliance and quality control purposes.

11. Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How often should I clean my food mill? A: While the food mill does not necessarily need to be cleaned after every use, it should be brushed when changing types of grains or food products. Regular cleaning should be performed to maintain cleanliness and prevent bacterial contamination.

Q: Can I wash my food mill in a dishwasher? A: No, it is not recommended to wash the food mill or any of its parts in a dishwasher. Handwashing with mild detergent and warm water is the preferred method of cleaning.

Q: How should I store my food mill? A: Store the food mill in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture and corrosion. Disassemble the equipment if necessary and lightly coat the burrs with mineral oil for long-term storage.

Q: Can I use the same cleaning and sanitizing procedures for other food processing equipment? A: The cleaning and sanitizing procedures outlined in this guide can be applied to various food processing equipment. However, always refer to the manufacturer's instructions and recommendations for specific equipment.

12. Conclusion

Proper maintenance and cleaning of food mills are essential for ensuring food safety and maintaining optimal performance. By following the step-by-step guidelines provided in this comprehensive guide, you can effectively clean and care for your food mill, preventing bacterial contamination and prolonging its lifespan. Remember to always prioritize hygiene and regularly inspect and maintain your equipment to ensure the highest quality food production.


  1. What are the key steps in properly disassembling and cleaning a food mill to ensure effective maintenance and hygiene?

  2. How can users prevent corrosion and maintain the longevity of their food mills, especially when dealing with acidic ingredients or prolonged storage?

  3. What considerations should be taken into account when selecting cleaning agents for food mills to ensure both cleanliness and food safety?

Marias Condo
Marias Condo

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