Office Eating

Reviewed by Eleese Cunningham, RDN
lunch at desk


If you're one of the 83 percent of Americans who regularly eat at their desks, stay healthy by following these food safety tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods.

Keep Your Cool

Some desktop diners bring perishable food items for lunch, including sandwiches, fruits, vegetables and leftovers - which can spoil if left unrefrigerated for more than two hours. Help your brown bag go the distance by storing it in the office fridge as soon as you get to work. No fridge at work? Pack your lunch in an insulated lunch bag and throw in an ice pack to keep foods cold. (Or, as an alternative, try using a frozen water bottle — it works just as well as an ice pack and doubles as a refreshing noon-time drink).

Follow Fridge Safety

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics/ConAgra Foods survey, approximately one in five people admit they don't know if their office fridge is ever cleaned or say it is rarely or never cleaned. Yet most perishable foods have a shelf life of just three to five days! Don't wait for the clean-up crew to throw out your leftovers: Label and date your food and make sure to toss it in a timely fashion.

Manage the Microwave

Be courteous when microwaving meals by keeping food containers covered. And if food splatters, wipe down the microwave immediately, while the food is still easy to remove.

Avoid Corporate Sponging

A damp, smelly sponge is a clear sign that harmful bacteria are lurking inside, and simply rinsing a sponge with water isn't enough to keep it clean. Don't use the kitchen sponge if it's not replaced frequently. Instead, use paper towels and always wash dishes in hot, soapy water to keep bacteria at bay.

Tools of the Trade

Make the most of your desktop dining experience by stocking up on these essential food safety supplies:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes or paper towels and spray cleanser
  • Office refrigerator or insulated lunch bag with freezer pack
  • Labels for leftovers
  • Refrigerator thermometer (make sure your office fridge is set properly below 40ºF)
  • Food thermometer (always reheat leftover lunch foods to an internal temperature of 165ºF)

Clock In Carry-Out

When bringing carry-out back to your desk, don't wait too long before eating it or you could put yourself at risk of food poisoning. If a looming deadline is unavoidable, put your lunch in the office fridge until you're ready to eat.

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