Do you eat at your desk? Do you grab a snack from a community platter? Do you have office potlucks? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, it is important to consider these food safety facts and tips!
Each year in the United States, one in six people will experience a foodborne illness. According to the CDC, of the people experiencing a foodborne illness, 128,000 people will be hospitalized and 3,000 people will die. The sources of food contamination can be bacteria, viruses, parasites, chemicals, and/or toxins. Typical symptoms of a foodborne illness are nausea, vomiting, dehydration, fever, and/or diarrhea. Foodborne illnesses can result in loss of time and money.
Hand washing to the rescue!
Germs are lurking everywhere at work -- handshakes, doorknobs, pencils/pens, keyboards, phones, copiers, and employee bathrooms. It is very important to always wash your hands before eating your lunch or diving into the office goodies! It only takes 20 seconds of hand scrubbing with warm soapy water to get rid of those pesky germs! Hand sanitizers are recommended for after hand washing or when hand washing is not possible.
Careful with catered lunches!
Catered lunches or potlucks are lots of fun, but bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature. Refrigerate all perishable foods within 2 hours of delivery. If this is not possible, toss the perishable foods out at the end of the event. The person in charge of receiving the catered foods should check to see if cold foods are cold and hot foods are hot upon delivery.
Brown bag dilemma
Packing a lunch is very economical. It is important to put your lunch sack in the refrigerator as soon as you arrive to work. If your lunch is packed in an insulated bag, loosen the top so the cold air from the refrigerator can enter the bag! Refrigerated lunches or leftovers should only be kept 2-3 days in the refrigerator. It is a good idea to label your lunch bag with your name and date. Remember, when in doubt, toss!
Spoiled sponges, dirty dishcloths
Sponges and dishcloths harbor germs. Keep disposable dishcloths or paper towels handy. Use sanitizer wipes to clean up the kitchen. To help keep sponges safe, frequently soak them in a solution of bleach water (1 tsp/quart of water) or zap them in the microwave for 1 minute.
Shared food or shared germs?
Many foodborne illnesses are a result of improper hand washing. Therefore, always provide serving utensils with platters or bowls of food to prevent people from handling food with bare hands!
For more safe food practices, check out these links!