Whether eating at your desk, in the lunchroom or during a meeting, stay healthy and keep your food safe:
Watch the Clock
- Perishable foods such as sandwiches, fruits, vegetables and leftovers can spoil if left unrefrigerated for more than two hours. Help your brown bag go the distance by storing it in the office refrigerator as soon as you get to work.
- If you don't have access to a refrigerator, pack your lunch in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack to keep foods cold. As an alternative, use a frozen water bottle. It works just as well and doubles as a refreshing noon-time drink.
- If you have lunch delivered or bring back takeout from a restaurant, don't wait too long before eating it. If you have to get back to work immediately, put your lunch in the refrigerator until you have time to dig in.
- If perishable snacks are put out at the office to share, find out how long they have been sitting out before you eat any. If it has been more than two hours, take a pass and encourage they be thrown away.
Practice Hand Hygiene
- Always wash your hands before, during and after handling food. It is the easiest way to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
- No time to wash with soap and water? Keep your desk stocked with moist towelettes or hand sanitizer. If you are a frequent drive-through diner, keep these supplies in your car.
Manage the Microwave
- When microwaving meals, keep food containers covered. If food splatters, wipe down the microwave immediately while the food is still easy to remove.
- Reheat leftovers to the proper temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If your office microwave isn't equipped with a turntable, pause the timer and rotate food one-half turn midway through and give it a stir. This eliminates cold spots where bacteria can survive. After microwaving, let food sit one minute, then check the temperature with a meat thermometer.
Follow Fridge Safety
- Most perishable foods have a shelf life of three to five days. Don't wait for the office clean-up crew to throw out your leftovers. Label and date any food you place in the office refrigerator. Then consume it or toss it in a timely fashion.
- Not sure about the temperature in your office fridge? Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure it is cool enough (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) to keep your lunch safe.
Avoid Corporate Sponging
- When sponges become damp and smelly, it is a clear sign they have harmful bacteria lurking inside. Simply rinsing a sponge with water isn't enough to keep it clean. If the community sponge is not replaced frequently, don't use it. Instead, use paper towels and always wash dishes in hot, soapy water or use a dishwasher if available.
Bring these essential food safety supplies to work with you:
- Hand sanitizer
- Disinfectant wipes or paper towels and spray cleanser
- Insulated lunch bag with freezer pack
- Labels for leftovers
- Refrigerator thermometer
- Meat thermometer.
Reviewed December 2012