Many Americans regularly eat lunch and snacks at their workplace. Some have designated lunchrooms, but many of us regularly eat at our desks. With food prices going up, this may become a more popular lunchtime activity.
By following a few simple, common sense food safety tips, you can safely dine during work hours. First, wash your hands properly and often!
Keep Cold Foods Cold:
Use the refrigerator to store your lunch and snacks.
If there is not a refrigerator, use an ice pack or frozen water bottle. Freezing juice packs can help to keep lunches cold as well.
Don’t let food sit out. Keep it out of the “Danger Zone” (41-135°) for longer than 2 hours.
Label and date your food and leftovers for best safety and quality (and to prevent lunch thieves).
Throw away foods that are over 3-5 days old.
Wash and sanitize the interior of the refrigerator on a regular basis-especially veggie drawers.
Microwave Oven Hints:
Keep all foods being cooked or reheated covered.
Immediately wipe down all splatters.
Wash and sanitize the interior of the microwave on a regular basis.
In the Break or Lunch Room:
Do not use sponges, which are a breeding ground for germs. Use cleaner with disposable paper towels or cloths that are rotated (washed) frequently.
Wash dishes in ho soapy water, rinse, sanitize and allow them to air dry.
Food Safety Tools to Keep Handy at Work:
- Hand sanitizer
- Disinfectant wipes
- Paper towels
- Spray disinfectant
- Labels for foods and leftovers
- Refrigerator thermometer- make sure your office refrigerator is set properly below 40° F.
- Food thermometer- always reheat leftover lunch foods to an internal temperature of 165° F.
If You Take Your Lunch to Work:
Wash your lunch container and thermos in hot soapy water every day.
Consider a reusable lunch bag. If you use a brown paper bag, use a clean bag each day.
Pre-heat thermos with hot water before filling with hot liquids.
Pre-chill thermos with ice water before filling with cold liquids.
Desk Drawer Food Storage Hints:
Snacks and foods may attract pests to work areas, so be sure to remove crumbs and wipe surfaces with cloths or disposable towels and cleaner. Both ants and cockroaches leave a pheromone trail and will return to a site if the trail isn’t removed, even if the food has been removed.
Periodically clean and disinfect desktop, drawers, tabletops, and other work surfaces.
Keep only a limited supply of individually wrapped single serve portions of snacks in your desk drawer, purse, briefcase, or backpack.
Remember, washing your hands and all surfaces with warm, soapy water is best, but if that is not possible at least use hand sanitizer and/or disinfectant wipes. Happy, food safe office dining!