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Food Safety at the Office

Keep an office policy to toss all refrigerated foods on Friday afternoons.

Food safety doesn't stop at home. Try these tips for food safety at the office.

A catered lunch

  • Never leave perishable — food such as milk, cheese, and other dairy products; eggs; meat; poultry and seafood — at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Once fruits and vegetables are cut, it's safest to limit their time at room temperature to a couple of hours.


  • Please don't double-dip at an office party — that is, dip, take a bite, then dip again.
  • The best defense against double-dipping may be a good offense. Beat the double-dippers to the dip by putting enough dip on your plate the first time to enjoy with all your chips.

Dissing the dishcloth

  • Do you have an office dishcloth that's used for everything from wiping the tables to washing plates and cups? Did it start out white but now it's gray? Encourage the use of disposable paper towels to wipe off the sink and tables.
  • Place your food on a napkin or paper towel rather than directly in contact with the table surface.
  • Wash coffee cups in a dishwasher or in hot, soapy water using a freshly cleaned dishcloth. Then rinse with hot water and air dry.
  • Don't re-contaminate clean dishes by drying them with dirty towels, especially towels that are also used as hand towels.
  • If you have little control over how cups are cleaned, bring your own cup that you can clean appropriately. Also, keep special cups on hand for serving coffee to visitors.

Refreshing the fridge

  • If your office doesn't already have one, start a policy of a weekly tossing all foods left in the refrigerator.
  • Be sure to post a sign on the refrigerator so no one is caught unaware.
  • A food is saved only if there's a note on it requesting it be left until a specific date.

A handy tip

  • Hand washing is considered the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
  • If you need a helpful reminder, contact your local health department for a free poster about this subject.

Source: FoodTalk E-mail Newsletter, University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension, Lancaster County.

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