candy bowl

Beware of Sharing Food at the Office

With office parties, snack-sharing, the office candy bowl, or any form of shared food, there comes benefits and health risks. This is especially true in the fall season where the flu is more prevalent, and the holiday parties start to appear in full swing. With this comes a lot of finger foods, shared snacks, and homemade foods.

We all know who has the candy at their desk when we want a quick snack. Or the office baker who is constantly blessing the office with homemade goodies like cookies, brownies or cup-cakes.

While these can be very helpful in bringing a workplace together to celebrate, they can also become a dangerous pool for germs and sickness.

Everyone wants a happy and healthy office, and because of this, it is important to take the proper precautions to avoid unhealthy communal food habits.

Pros and Cons of Food Sharing

As stated, there are benefits and downfalls to having office food in a communal place, so it is important to weigh out the options. Below are the most prominent pros and cons concerning sharing food in the workplace.

Pros of Communal Food

  • It Can Bring the Office Together

By providing free food, whether it be at parties or as snacks for the workers in the office, this can bring the whole office together to bond more. This is true at office parties during the holidays because everyone comes together to have a good time while eating without the distraction of common work duties.

  • Everyone is Able to Eat

With food being provided, everyone, even those who weren’t able to bring their own dish, are able to eat and be involved with the rest of the office without feeling left out.

  • More Variety of Foods to Enjoy

When the whole office brings in food to share, there are a lot of options to choose from and no one feels as if they are isolated based off of what they are eating. Everyone is put on an equal playing field with food.

Cons of Communal Food

The primary cause for concern with communal food sharing is the risk of spreading illnesses or diseases. If the food is not handled properly or people are not sanitary when getting the food, this can be a health risk. There are countless illness and diseases that are spread by touch or cross-contamination in your kitchen.

This is a major concern primarily in the fall and winter seasons when the flu tends to spread at a much higher rate. For this, is it important to be careful and take proper precautions when handling and enjoying food at the office.

What is Lurking in Your Food

As stated above, the primary cause for concern when sharing food in a workplace is the potential to spread diseases or illnesses. Since everyone is going to be in close proximity to the food, it is important to bring the proper food types and take safety precautions prior to sharing food.

There are various ways to do this, and each one is equally as important to the others. Here are some of the potential health risks of communal food sharing:

  • The Flu Virus

With flu season in full swing, improper handling of food can cause the flu to be spread much easier. The flu spreads by those being sick not washing their hands often and not being careful when preparing or purchasing food to bring to the office.

  • Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a common disease of the liver that can be spread through the sharing of food disgustingly through the fecal-oral route. YUCK!

If someone touches the food when they didn’t wash their hands first, they can spread this disease to everyone else that eats that food after them.

  • Norovirus

It is the most common type of virus that causes gastroenteritis; those with it experience diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

The number one cause?, not washing your hands after using the bathroom or before preparing food or coming into contact with food.

Norovirus can spread very quickly within large groups of people in close quarters. This is why when one person gets ill, entire households or offices often catch it too.

  • Food Poisoning

Was there any cross-contamination at their home when they were preparing the food? Was it kept at proper temperature?

If someone brings homemade food, you are not able to monitor whether it was handled properly. As a result, you can have a lot of workers down for the count due to food poisoning.

6 Steps to Safely Share Food

Below is a list of some of the precautions your workplace can take to prevent sicknesses from being spread through the sharing of food and have a healthy office environment throughout the year.

1. Buy Individually Wrapped Food

By bringing handmade food, there is a higher risk of spreading diseases and sicknesses because you cannot monitor how the food was made and if sanitary steps were taken when making the food.

Because of this, you can emphasize the importance of bringing only store-bought and individually wrapped food.

Individually wrapped foods not only allow you to avoid homemade dishes, but they also prevent the spreading of germs by touching the same foods.

2. Provide Toothpicks or Tongs When Sharing Food

If you do have food in the office that is not wrapped, the best way to prevent the spreading of germs is through using toothpicks or tongs.

Never let people grab the food with their hands because you cannot guarantee that their hands are clean prior to them contaminating the rest of the food.

By using tongs and toothpicks, you avoid the risk of too many hands touching the food since they grab the food with the tools provided instead.

3. Have Servers Stationed Along the Food Line

If you are very scared of too many germs being spread through people touching the food with unclean hands, you can have someone serve the food that is wearing gloves or has washed their hands.

While this is an extra step to take when planning an office party, it is one that can significantly decrease the health risks that come with office parties or food sharing.

4. Create a "Sanitation Station"

Before the entire office all share the same serving spoons with each other, they can prepare their hands first. At the front of the food line, consider having bottles of hand sanitizer for those who forget to wash their hands.

If you are sick or not feeling well, then ask an office buddy to dish out your food for you and avoid contaminating everyone.

5. Provide Cups or Bowls for Snacks

If you do have that bowl of M&M's, can of nuts or that large tub of cheese balls in your cubicle or office, let people know not to put their hands inside and just take what they want.

Provide them small Dixie cups or a small paper bowl and ask them to pour out the item and not use their hands.

6. Watch Out for Double-Dipping

It's not just a joke from the Seinfeld TV Show. Studies found that every time someone double dipped in a food bowl or dip, thousands of germs and bacteria were spread.

This is a very dangerous method of food sharing and is one of the most common ways in which bacteria are spread at parties.

To prevent this, you can emphasize the importance of not double-dipping prior to the party starting, or encourage everyone to dish out their own dip to a small plate or bowl and not congregate around the appetizer area.

Overall, there are a lot of benefits that come with sharing food in the office, especially at office parties, but there are also some major risks, those being the risk of sharing sicknesses and diseases.

If you are planning to share food in the workplace, it is first important to be knowledgeable about the different risks that partake in communal food as well as the different preventative measures that can be taken so that you ensure no one gets sick or worse.

These tips can help you to enjoy the bonding and camaraderie that comes from sharing food together and also help promote a healthy office.

dirty office

Top Ten Dirtiest Places in Your Office

An office may not be a place you specifically associate with germs. It’s professional, runs like clockwork, and is a source of productivity. It’s clear to see why an office environment may not correlate to filthiness in the eyes of many.

We must remember, however, that numerous people will spend up to 9 hours there – even more for the unfortunates burdened with overtime! Humans naturally have an outstanding amount of germs both on their exterior and interior. We carry all of our germs with us throughout the day – depositing them onto whatever we come into contact with (or happen to sneeze and cough upon.)

Discover just some of the dirtiest office areas that need thorough cleaning daily.

Coffee Maker

A person in need of coffee isn’t likely to have sanitation at the top of their priorities, neither is it considered an office apparatus that needs regular cleaning.

The closest a coffee maker may get to a wash is a quick wipe-down or water change. This simply doesn’t suffice when you take into consideration just how many people use it every day and how germy it has been proven to be.

The possibility of stale water, which germs thrive off, doesn’t do the much-loved coffee-maker many favors either.

A hired professional commercial cleaner would take this into account, the coffee maker would be spic-and-span every morning – ready to boost some drowsy workers!

Water Cooler

The humble water cooler fares no better than the coffee maker when it comes to cleanliness. Extracting the water from the cooler requires that you maintain your hand on the leaver for some time – allowing more time for bacteria transfer.

People need to drink so the water cooler isn’t going to get a break all day. This use leads to an accumulation of a variety of germs – office workers who would’ve never come into contact are all united by the water cooler.

It’s recommended that you use alcohol-based sanitize wipes to combat germs at moments like these. They are easily portable and don’t waste time.

Taps and Sinks

Surely that which we clean our hands with should be the most polished! We all know this not to be the case. Even automatic taps can be swarmed with germs.

Despite or constant cleansing of our hands, mugs, plates in sinks – the sink itself is rarely cleansed. A regular wipe down with hot and soapy water with a sanitizing agent should be undertaken repeatedly at regular intervals throughout the day.

This can be time-consuming and laborious for office workers who may have deadlines to meet. Once again, a professional office cleaner can save the day simply by being hired.

Elevator Buttons

This is an obvious germ-haven but they are inevitable for those working in the upper floors of a building or disabled workers. Just think about how often a day the floor buttons must be pushed every day – never mind the lobby button!

Elevator buttons have even been scientifically outed as being filthy! Pushing your desired button with the tip of your elbow is a recommended method to this quandary – this can appear quite bizarre and may leave you feeling silly.

As an alternative, you can stick to the classic of washing your hands with hot and soapy water for up to 20 seconds at every opportunity possible.

Door Handles

Asking office cleaning staff to be thorough on door handles is a must in large-scale offices. They’re necessary to the workplace and absolutely every used them, often placing their whole hand on the handle – leading to further germ spread.

We are adapted to have a natural disgust response to that which is outwardly putrid. If every door handle a worker comes into contact with is grimy and sticky – they certainly won’t have an enjoyable workday.

Regular inspection should be undertaken on the many handles of an office and due sanitation done if necessary.

Office Equipment

It may be the bane of any workers life but it’s necessary. As we have seen from previously looking into elevator buttons – anything to do with buttons tends to be germy and unsanitary.

Whether it be the buttons on a printer, copier or fax machine – we simply don’t take into account just how filthy they can be. Cleaning office equipment in the same manner as elevator buttons is highly recommended.

Keyboard

There’s sometimes just no time to put that pretzel or biscuit down if you’re about to send an urgent email or make a deal. Your keyboard and the crumbs falling onto, (and into,) it becomes a vague afterthought.

It’s not often that anyone subsequently picks up their keyboard after blasting it with crumbs and shakes the food bits out, never mind clean it. This coupled with the constant use of keyboards and the sneezes and coughs often directed at it has won it a place as one of the germiest aspects of an office.

To stave off the eerie sense of germs lingering beneath your fingers it is recommended that you use cans of compressed air that can be used to blow the debris out between the keys.

A daily wipe down using a suitable sanitizer is also suggested.

Desktop

The desktop is home to 400 times more germs than a toilet seat – ten million to be exact. That is a whopping 21,000 bacteria viruses and fungi per square inch!

It’s almost unbelievable how any works at a desk upon processing these facts! The chance of falling ill is immense. Luckily, the filth is not set in stone nor are the shocking figures.

Even just a daily thorough clean can remedy this hazard – something that we often neglect doing due to having other priorities.

Telephone

Last but not least – the telephone. You may protest that this won’t affect you as you only use mobile – mobile’s hold just the same amount if not more germs and bacteria than a phone.

The cleaning of phones is passed to the side and disregarded as being unnecessary which is remarkable considering that it is host to 25,000 germs per square inch. Beating the germ refuge that is the average desktop by up to 4,000 germs!

How do you cull the germ hazard?

There are many precautions against spreading germs that we can implement into our daily lives such as sneezing into our elbows, carrying sanitization wipes, washing our hands regularly but we often don’t have time to carry out the tedious task of cleaning that which we come into every day.

It is clear to see how an organized and dedicated team of professional commercial cleaners working both overnight and during the day can alleviate the stresses of a dirty work environment and help with the flow of an office workplace.

It is not sufficient that an office worker only cleans the area which they function in – all aspects of the office must be cleaned in order to prevent unnecessary contamination and contagion.

That's where the benefit of a professional nightly office cleaning service can take care of all the dirty places in your office and keep your office looking great and your employees feeling great.

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