With many of us now heading back into the office 5 days a week, we’re back to organising lunches and snacks to get us through those long work days. With so many people once again utilising shared kitchen spaces in their places of work, the opportunity for cross-contamination and poor food safety practices are high. Rather than playing Russian roulette every time you prep your food in the office kitchen, become familiar with workplace food safety and ensure your always practising safe food handling.

How to keep your food and employees safe in the workplace

There are a variety of safe food handling practices that you can adopt in the workplace to help minimise the chances of food contamination among your staff members. Some of the top ways that you can stay food-safe in the workplace include:

Review the Refrigerator regularly

Knowing what’s going on inside your refrigerator is essential to ensuring that food is being stored in safe and secure conditions. Not only does this mean disposing of food that is past its safe consumption point, but also knowing what the temperature is in your office refrigerator. If the office fridge is too warm the chances of bacterial growth are significantly higher. Stick a thermometer in the fridge and check to make sure it’s at the correct temperature.

Keep it clean

It has been estimated that the average workplace refrigerator is only cleaned once every 6 weeks or so, This is plenty of time for perishable food to spoil and become a contaminant issue. Regular cleanouts of the fridge will ensure that perishable food is disposed of before it has the chance to become a real food safety issue.

Know how long food can be stored for

Knowing the fridge life of food is essential. Certain foods are going to last longer in the fridge than others, while others will need to be disposed of within several days of storage. If you’ve got perishable food items such as sandwiches, home-cooked leftovers, salads or dairy floating around in the office fridge, they will need to be consumed or disposed of within a tight time frame. Knowing when they were brought in can help ascertain when they will need to be cleared out of the office refrigerator.

Dispose of food promptly

If you have food that has been outside of the fridge for any length of time, consider getting rid of them rather than placing them back in the fridge. Perishable food that has been sitting out at room temperature will encourage the swift growth of harmful bacteria. Rather than risk the consumption of these harmful bacteria that can lead to illness, dispose of the food in a safe and efficient manner.

Regularly dispose of those kitchen sponges

Soft, damp and smelly kitchen sponges are a sure sign that harmful bacteria are lurking inside. When sponges aren’t changed often enough this bacteria is then spread all around the surfaces that are wiped down with the old sponge. Regularly changing the kitchen sponges is essential to ensure that this bacteria doesn’t get a chance to build up. Additionally, consider using paper towels and a disinfectant spray to clean the kitchen down and keep all surfaces safe.

Trust the experts

If you’re unsure whether your office kitchen is up to scratch, consider adopting a government-approved cleaning and disinfectant plan to ensure you are practising safe food handling techniques at your workplace. Approved clean plans will ensure that you pay attention to areas such as frequently touched surfaces, communal food preparation areas and other areas where food is consumed, such as the lunch room or even desks. Government-approved plans will also be able to provide helpful information on what disinfectants should be used, food-safe cleaners and the right cleaning tools to invest in.

Food safety in the workplace doesn’t need to be difficult

Practising food safety in the workplace with a large number of employees isn’t as difficult as it may initially seem. Often, regular cleaning of areas where food is prepared and stored will ensure that your workplace practices safe food handling practices. When deeper cleaning practices are needed you can always follow the government-approved cleaning plans to ensure you are providing your staff with a safe area to store and eat their food.

If you are looking for more food safety or food handling tips, we can help. Take a look at our extensive blog that features food safety tips for a variety of different environments. We also offer training courses for professionals who are looking to attain a food handling certificate.