Of the many things you should not do at work, leaving food exposed in the office is one of the worst—overnight or even for a short period. It is unhygienic by spreading bacteria in the surrounding. Moreover, it also attracts pests into your office. You would not want to add more stress to a workplace with the rats, ants, or cockroaches scurrying around.
If these are not enough to convince you, discover more reasons you should not leave food exposed in your office.
The food may look clean, but it can be contaminated with bacteria
It is a general thought that if something looks clean, it is safe for consumption. A sandwich you have left exposed overnight may look untouched and perfectly clean. However, disease-causing bacteria may have infected it. For instance, cockroaches who favours unhygienic and decaying matters and hangs around garbage bins and food waste, picked by germs and bacteria. Cockroaches transfer bacteria to surfaces or exposed food or by leaving urine and poops on them as they run across. Thus, causing health dangers to our health upon contamination.
What’s more, is the dust and germs that lingers around the office air, or bacteria and virus that spread for colleagues due to a flu, potentially can land and contaminate the exposed food.
Bacteria grow and multiply fastest in the ‘danger zone’
Leaving out food too long at room temperature can cause bacteria to develop and grow to dangerous levels that they may cause illness. In particular, bacteria grow the fastest in temperatures between 40°F and 140°F. It is a range often called the “danger zone”, where they can double in number in at least 20 minutes.
Pests may touch the food left exposed in the office
In addition to that, leaving food in the office can also attract unwanted pests which can be anything from rats, cockroaches, or ants. Aside from compromising the safety of your working environment, the presence of these pests can also contaminate food and spread pathogens such as Salmonella and E.coli, to name a few. Some indications your office has pests include:
- pest sightings
- pest sightings
- urine and droppings
- property damage
- gnaw marks on food packaging
- odour or stench; and
- other signs of pests (eggs, fur, grease marks, and/or shed body parts)
When you see any of these signs, it could be a start of a pest infestation. You may have to hire a pest control company in Singapore to detect and confirm a potential infestation and do the necessary pest control in the commercial building. Did you know? There are as many as 7 different kinds of pest poops and for the untrained users like us, we may not recognise or relate them to poop. They could easily pass off as dirt and grime.
Food may leave a lingering smell
Aside from the food safety, it may have a lingering smell that can be attractive to pests. This is particularly true for foods such as fish, fermented dishes (e.g. sauerkraut and kimchi), hamburgers, fries, onions, and garlic.
On top of that, there is also the risk that you may leave crumbs and food residue on your table, further inviting pests into your office. In fact, ants for instance have almost the same diet preference as us. From sweets, sugar, fruits, juices, cakes, and even dead insects and water. These items could easily represent any of our daily snacks, tea breaks or lunch packs we consume at our work desk daily. In fact, there many other unexpected food that pests love.
Re-heating food will not make it safe
You may be aware that your food has been exposed to bacteria and confident that you can easily kill them when you pop the food in the microwave oven. The truth is, if you let food sit out for more than two hours, you are not making it safe by reheating. High temperature may not destroy some bacteria such as staphylococcus and Bacillus. Why not take a 30 minutes break to have set aside time to consume your lunch, instead of leaving them open for a while and consuming when you finally have the time to do so?
Food safety & proper storage in the workplace
Proper storage and safe food-handling practices are a good defense against foodborne illnesses. There are ways you can ensure food safety and work-place cleanliness, even if you are unable to prevent eating in the office or at your work desk.Proper storage and safe food-handling practices are a good defence against foodborne illnesses. There are ways you can ensure food safety and work-place cleanliness, even if you are unable to prevent eating in the office or at your work desk.
- Store leftovers in airtight containers and place them in the refrigerator or your drawer.
- When reheating food in the microwave, make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 165 °F or until it is hot and steaming.
- If possible, do not leave food exposed at all.
- Finish your food every time and if you cannot, store them in the refrigerator for tomorrow’s consumption.
- Do not throw unfinished or unsealed food in your bin next to your step. Dispose them at the main garbage area in the pantry.
- Have zip lock bags and fasteners ever ready in your drawer for convenient storage
- Wipe off spills and crumbs off the desk after consumption.
The impact of pests in the workplace
In terms of food safety, germs and bacteria are not the only enemies but pests as well. As earlier mentioned, pests are attracted to any food sources in the office, may they be as little as the food crumbs you left on your table. In addition, they also feed on many unexpected items found in your office.
Their presence can pose a risk to your employees from bites, to food poisoning, and allergic reactions—all of which can result in low levels of productivity or worse, absenteeism. On top of that, rats and rodents in the office can also cause damage by biting off wires and other office equipment, which, if excessive, can potentially cause short-circuit, resulting in fire.
Above all, it affects the business operations, potential penalty and financial implications and unexpected recovery and replacement costs and expense.
Therefore, aside from the measures to ensure food safety in the workplace, it is necessary to take the following pest control and preventive tips steps to keep your office clean and pest-free.
- Avoid eating or drinking on your desk and instead, use the break room to eat.
- Cover any uneaten food or drinking bottles.
- Avoid leaving food outside the refrigerator or cabinet overnight.
- Reduce the clutter and keep the mess under control.
- Clean up surfaces and wipe away spills or crumbs immediately.
- Clear your trash every night. (READ: What Happens If You Do Not Clear Your Trash Overnight)
Engage professional pest management solutions
It is not impossible to keep infestation at bay and there is solutions on how to get rid of pests in the office. Besides maintaining diligent housekeeping and cultivate healthy workspace habits, engaging professional pest control company is essential. These specialists will perform a full site survey of the premise and access the environment to recommend a suitable and affordable pest management program for the business.
Rentokil Singapore shares a complete guide on pest control, particularly for 1st time pest control users who might need clarifications and insights on what to expect and how to evaluate a credible pest control company. In addition, FAQ clarifies essential clarifications on how much is pest control service in Singapore for better budget perspective.
If you are already dealing with pests, do not try to address it on your own. Contact our pest control professionals at Rentokil Singapore instead. We offer pest control services for homes and businesses.
Get a free quotation for pest control with Rentokil Singapore today. Get in touch with us at (65) 6347 8138.