Eating at Your Desk? Follow Our Top Seven Food Safety Dos + Don’ts to Avoid Getting Sick
When it comes to desktop dining, foodborne illness is a BIG threat.
Did you know that, according to noted microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba, professor and researcher at the University of Arizona, you’re likely safer eating lunch off a toilet seat than your average office desk?
The “germiest” places are the phone and desktop, followed by the computer keyboard and mouse.
In Gerba’s studies, he’s concluded a person’s desk may harbor as much as 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.
So, how can you protect yourself?
You can follow our TOP SEVEN food safety dos and don’ts for dramatically reducing the risk of eating contaminated food at your desk:
TIP #1: Clean your desktop frequently.
Germs are easily transferred from our hands to our noses, mouths, and eyes. Adults touch their faces about 16x/hour; children about 80x/hour. This is why it’s SO important to regularly clean your desk, phone, keyboard, and mouse. Dr. Gerba recommends frequently cleaning your desktop items with disinfectant wipes and using hand sanitizer throughout the day.
TIP #2: Refrigerate your lunch ASAP when you get to work.
If you bring your lunch to work, refrigerate perishable items like sandwiches with meat/cheese, salads, leftovers, and dairy foods within TWO HOURS from the time you made your lunch at home.
TIP #3: Wash your hands.
Always wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling your food (for at least 20 seconds each time). Although hand sanitizer isn’t the best method, use this if you’re not able to wash your hands.
TIP #4: Microwave your food thoroughly.
When microwaving a frozen meal, follow the package directions exactly and be sure to heat up your food thoroughly (no cold spots!). For leftovers, cook it up to 165 degrees to kill off any bacteria.
TIP #5: Thaw foods properly.
Frozen foods must be thawed in the fridge or microwave—not the countertop.
TIP #6: Refrigerate leftovers right away.
Got lunch leftovers? Refrigerate perishable items promptly at 40 degrees or below. Leaving them on your desk for an hour—or worse, all day—creates a veritable breeding ground for your food to develop harmful bacteria.
TIP #7: Toss leftovers before they spoil.
After no more than four days, throw out leftovers in the fridge.
And, lastly, our BONUS TIP: Be careful with fast food, too!
Don’t get lax — Our safety tips apply to fast food and carry out too. Personal hygiene, improper handling/unsanitary prep spaces (cross-contamination) and poor temperature control are the top three contributors to food poisoning.