Prevent Food Poisoning at Work by Following These Simple Tips

When food makes employees sick, it can be a serious detriment to workplace health, safety, and morale. Follow these simple tips to keep your workplace healthy and safe.

Prevent Food Poisoning in the Workplace with These Simple Tips

When food makes employees sick, it can be a serious detriment to workplace health, safety, and morale. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to mishandle food at work, and a shared kitchen with an unregulated fridge is a breeding ground for foodborne illness.

Fortunately, preventing food poisoning at work doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few simple ways to make sure your next company potluck is as safe as it is fun.

Cleanliness is Key to Avoiding Foodborne Illness in the Workplace

Before your next lunchtime rolls around, post these guidelines in the company kitchen to promote proper sanitation.

Follow Proper Handwashing Procedures

The recommended way to wash your hands is by scrubbing hands with soap under hot running water for 20 seconds and making sure to get the areas between your fingers and around your nails. Proper handwashing before and after handling foods, especially meat or common allergens, decreases the risk of foodborne illness and cross-contamination.

Follow Proper Handwashing Procedure

The recommended way to wash your hands is by scrubbing hands with soap under hot running water for 20 seconds and making sure to get the areas between your fingers and around your nails. Proper handwashing before and after handling foods, especially meat or common allergens, decreases the risk of foodborne illness and cross-contamination.

Cover Any Cuts or Abrasions

Food exposed to blood or bodily fluids is at risk for spreading dangerous infections. Suggest covering cuts or open sores with a bandage or a rubber glove if a wound or abrasion may come into contact with food during preparation, even if it’s your employee’s own meal.

Thoroughly Clean Food Preparation Surfaces and Utensils

It’s not always possible to ensure kitchen tool cleanliness when utensils and spaces are shared by many. Having plenty of dish soap and sanitary cleaning tools available for employees to use can reduce the risk of foodborne illness through sanitation.

Sponges, in particular, quickly become moldy if not properly cared for. For a more germ-resistant option, look for knit plastic scrubbies or a non-foam sponge. Make sure to thoroughly rinse company kitchen cleaning tools, store them in a way that allows them to dry fully, and replace them regularly.

Don’t Neglect Your Employees’ Desks

Between phones, keyboards, and the contents of pockets, desks are covered in bacteria-laden objects. However, this space is often overlooked when it comes to foodborne illness prevention, even though 62% of American professionals eat lunch at their desk every day. Eating lunch while working isn’t always avoidable, but it is possible to do safely. Wipe down surfaces before and after eating, and frequently disinfect phones and keyboards. These are great ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness for employees who eat at their desk.

Avoid Illness by Keeping Food Out of the Danger Zone

The “danger zone” for food storage is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Within this temperature range, bacteria growth accelerates. For some microbes, populations can double in as little as 20 minutes. Bacteria like salmonella and E. coli flourish between 40 and 140 degrees, and they can cause serious illness when ingested. The solution is simple: make sure employees have access to an effective refrigerator and access to a microwave or oven that will reheat their food up to at least 165 degrees.

Take Care of the Catering to Avoid Food Poisoning

A catered event or potluck is a great way to encourage team bonding and bring everyone together around the table. However, when food is left at room temperate for too long (more than two hours), it no longer becomes safe to eat. After the two-hour mark, bacteria growth increases significantly, as does the risk for food poisoning. To avoid illness after a shared meal, keep catered food on warming pans to ensure hot items stay above the 140-degree threshold. After the event, make sure one or two people are tasked with disposing of or properly storing the leftovers.

Clean the Fridge Regularly to Reduce Foodborne Illness

While refrigeration slows bacteria growth, a shared office fridge can become a hotbed for contamination if food isn’t used or disposed of promptly. One spoiled item can affect the food around it and lead to food poisoning if unwittingly consumed. Labeling foods with the owner’s name and the date is an effective way to make sure perishable lunch items don’t get pushed to the back of the fridge to rot. Implement a weekly Friday fridge clean-out, and discard items that pose a risk for spreading bacteria.

Don’t Forget About the Pantry

Expired food might not seem like a big deal — especially if it is sealed and unopened. But canned food poses a risk for botulism, a potentially life-threatening illness. Clearly labeling food with the expiration date and regularly sorting any pantry items can reduce potential exposure to illness-causing bacteria in spoiled food.

Learn More about Canopy Health’s Employer Resources

Canopy Health is dedicated to making sure your workplace remains happy, healthy, and productive. Learn more about our employer resources, or call us at 888-8-CANOPY.

Reference

Wollan, M. (2016, February 25) Failure to Lunch. New York Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/failure-to-lunch.html