With the economy set to reopen after weeks of lockdown, many people could start carrying their own packed food to the workplace as opposed to eating out at restaurants. A problem that comes with carrying a packed lunch to the workplace, however, is food contamination, which could cause food poisoning. The shared kitchen space and a multi user fridge at the workplace where employees prepare, warm and store their food could also be a breeding ground for bacteria. We have listed some of the common causes of food poisoning in the workplace in this article and advised workers on ways that they can avoid getting food poisoning in the workplace.
Homemade food is also considered a lot safer because fewer people are involved when preparing it. When compared to the amount of food made in restaurants, food made at home is fresher since only the amount you can consume is prepared. Furthermore, the utensils at a home serve fewer people, thereby reducing chances of contamination.
Experts suggest that most incidents of food poisoning in restaurants occur when a large crowd is being served since it increases the chances of contamination. A buffet eating environment where everyone serves his or her food raises the chances of contamination even higher. With the serving utensils coming into contact with everyone, the transfer of bacteria from one person to the other becomes easy.
If you are considering carrying your food from home to the office, you need to observe a lot of care since improper handling of food during preparation and inappropriate storage could cause you serious health issues.
Food safety tips for the workplace
For starters, clean all the surfaces and utensils that are used when preparing food. Ensure that you clean utensils such as knives that are used by multiple employees before and after use. Below is a list of safety tips to use in your workplace:
Do away with cleaning sponges
Note that the cleaning sponges absorb water quickly and could harbour mould if they are not properly handled. Since your office kitchen is used by many people, knit plastic scrubbing sponges or abrasive cleaning pads that do not have sponges could work great. Moreover, make sure to dry them after each use.
Dry and replace shared utensils
Utensils should also be cleaned thoroughly and dried completely before storing them. The shared utensils should also be replaced frequently.
Don’t forget about your working desk
The working desk should also be cleaned properly since many employees often eat from their working desk.
Storing food in the Fridge
Inappropriate storage of food in the company’s kitchen fridge is another way that food can easily get contaminated. Any food stored in the company’s fridge should be placed in containers that are completely covered. Containers that are used to store food in the fridge should also be cleaned and dried daily after use. Employees should also be encouraged to have multiple containers and rotate their use to prevent one container from carrying food continuously for many days.
When food is stored in the fridge, the containers should be clearly labelled with the owner’s name and date to prevent some containers from being pushed back in the storage rack and overstaying. The fridge should also be cleaned out frequently and all leftover food items discarded.
Which kind of Foods should be allowed at work?
The kind of food items that employees bring to work should also be observed. For instance, uncooked food items such as mayonnaise become spoilt easily. A worker who carries a sandwich with mayonnaise from home and sits through traffic on a warm day could arrive to the workplace with potentially harmful food. Placing such foods in the company’s fridge could contaminate other employees’ food and cause the whole office serious health issues.
The management should also encourage employees to bring with them dry foods and beverages. Items that are easy to cook, such as eggs, could also be stored in their raw form in the kitchen and employees allowed to cook them at your workplace.
Your employer should also provide an environment where food safety regulations are observed. Below are some of the things that your employer can do to help you keep your office kitchen safe and enhance safe food handling:
Consider in-house catering
If it is not convenient to carry packed lunches, ask your employer to introduce in-house catering services for the staff. This will minimise the need for the employees to go out to eat and ensure that they are eating safe food.
- Provide a clean space for keeping packed lunches. Firms that work with several employees can dedicate a room for keeping lunches. The room should be safe for food storage. If possible, it should have lockable spaces where employees can keep their lunches.
- Avail a refrigerator for employees to store food that needs refrigeration.
- Provide appliances for warming food and preparing quick meals. A microwave offers great convenience because it warms food quickly and is inexpensive.