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Office Food Safety

Most offices host some sort of get-together from different points in the year and you or others may be asked to bring a dish. If you’re not bringing food to the office, you may be bringing something to another get-together with family or friends. Follow these Safety Suggestions to be sure your diners remember your nice contribution, instead of a naughty case of food poisoning.  And YES the photo copier can add to the incident report and risks!

Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) and Bacillus cereus (B.cereus), were to blame.

Could it soon become a TRIF or OH&S event in life In regards to the law, someone affected by food poisoning must prove three things to make a successful liability claim:

·        There must be evidence that a food-borne pathogen contaminated the food.

·        The illness was actually caused by the contaminated food.

·        The person was harmed, whether it be physically, mentally and financially by the food poisoning.

B.cereus foodborne illnesses usually occur when food is improperly cooked or hasn’t been properly stored at safe cold or hot temperatures. Staph contamination usually occurs by contact with dirty food surfaces/utensils or by workers who carry Staph and then handle food without washing their hands,

The most frequent calls from offices to Poison Control are about drinking coffee pot cleaner instead of coffee, eating left-over food from an office party or the office refrigerator, and breathing in fumes from the photocopier.

Coffee pot cleaner can be left in the pot mistakenly instead of being drained and rinsed out. When the next person takes a drink, the taste is immediately different, of course! Quickly after that clue, the person might feel some mouth or throat irritation. Most of the time, a drink of water will make that feeling will go away on its own. More serious problems – burning in the mouth or throat – are possible but not common. Some types of coffee pot cleaner can be very irritating in their original form; once they are diluted in the coffee pot, serious problems are unlikely.

The rules for avoiding food poisoning are the same at office parties as they are at home: wash hands well before handling food; keep hot foods hot; keep cold foods cold; put left-over food back in the refrigerator within two hours.

If you bring your lunch to work, use a cold pack or store your lunch in the refrigerator. Wrap it well so it doesn’t drip or leak. And be sure to eat your refrigerated lunch food in a day or so. There are reasons why many offices clear out the fridge each Friday! Old food = spoiled food = unpleasant odors for everyone, plus possible food poisoning.

Printers and photocopiers can emit ozone and other chemical fumes. These can cause headaches, eye irritation or chest tightness in some people. If this happens, get to fresh air. The filter on the equipment may need to be checked. Handle ink and toner cartridges for printers and photocopiers carefully. Spilling these materials on your skin usually won’t cause problems (other than stains), but they can cause a rash in some people. If these materials get on your skin, wash them off with plenty of water and soap right away.

Don’t let food poisoning leave you with large medical expenses, lost wages due to time off and many other issues.

Signs can include:

·        Abdominal pain

·        Diarrhea

·        Fever

·        Nausea and/or Vomiting

·        Malaise

Food-borne pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that can cause you to get sick:

·        Botulism

·        Campylobacter

·        Cyclosppora or Cyclosporiasis

·        E. Coli

·        Hepatitis A

·        Listeria

·        Norovirus

·        Salmonella or Salmonellosis

·        Shigella or Shigellosis

·        Vibrio

Safety Suggestion  1: Keep Hot Food Hot. Hot items are best served immediately after cooking or reheating. If you plan on serving a hot item at the office party, take it straight from the oven and either place it in an insulated bag or hot food carrier. If you can’t serve it as soon as you arrive, return it to the oven. Alternatively, you can completely chill the item and transport it according to Safety Suggestion  2. Once you arrive at the office reheat it using a microwave, stove, or oven to 165 °F.

Safety Suggestion  2: Keep Cold Food Cold. Cold items should remain in the refrigerator for as long as possible. When transporting cold dishes, place items in a cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. A refrigerator thermometer in the cooler is a useful way to make sure items remain at proper chill temperature of 40 °F or below.

Safety Suggestion  4: Use Several Small Platters. For both hot and cold items, arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on large platter. This way you can hold food at safe temperatures (cold foods below 40 °F and hot foods above 140 °F) until party goers are ready to eat it.

Safety Suggestion  5: Keep Track of Time. Keep track of how long items have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything out longer than two hours. You never want to leave perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles in the “Danger Zone” over two hours. The danger zone is between 40 and 140 °F where bacteria multiply rapidly. After two hours, enough bacteria may have grown in your food to make party goers sick. Exceptions to the danger zone include ready-to-eat items like cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruit.

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