Image: Mike Sharkey

Keep the office fridge clean – and safe

February 25, 2018

Is your shared office refrigerator filled with mystery items, funky smells and 5-month-old yogurt? It’s time to take action.

Proper temperature

Refrigerators should be kept at 40° F or colder to best slow bacterial growth in foods. Avoid storing food in temperatures between 40° F and 140° F – this range is considered the “danger zone” where bacteria growth can double in just 20 minutes, according to Foodsafety.gov.

Set freezers at a temperature of 0° F. Regularly check refrigerator and freezer temps with kitchen thermometers.

For a detailed chart showing the safe storage times for refrigerators and freezers, visit www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html.

If perishable food has been left in your office’s refrigerator for more than a week, throw it out, Foodsafety.gov advises. Clean up spills immediately using hot soapy water.

Food storage tips

Regarding food storage, Foodsafety.gov recommends following these four tips:

  1. Read food labels for storage recommendations. Items such as mayonnaise, ketchup and other condiments should be refrigerated after opening. If an item hasn’t been properly refrigerated, don’t risk it. It’s best to toss it.
  2. Be mindful of expiration dates. If a food item is past its use-by date or the food looks questionable, throw it out.
  3. If food looks or smells funny, or you can see mold forming, discard the item.
  4. Make cleaning the refrigerator a shared responsibility at your office. Circulate these safety tips among your co-workers, who may be unaware of the importance of maintaining a clean fridge.