By Debbie Nice, Facilities Supplies Category Director
Although the hygiene spotlight is most often on food businesses, keeping and handling food safely is just as important in a non-food based workplace.
Ultimately, all workplaces have food on site in one form or another and a failure to store it properly, whatever its origin, can have big consequences for any business.
Staff taking time off work sick, drops in productivity or cross contamination are just a few issues that any workplace can encounter if it hasn’t taken the storage, use and presentation of food, even lunches brought in by employees, seriously enough.
If you are a reseller looking to learn more about this area to sell more effectively to your customers, here are some of the questions to ask:
What state are the premises in?
To prevent transmission of germs to hands and or to food items, work premises should be kept clean and well maintained, with regular cleaning of all surfaces and office equipment, including workstations where people may take their lunch breaks ‘al desko’ .
There should be enough kitchen surface space for people to prepare food hygienically and easily. Any surfaces where people are likely to place or eat their food should be protected against the build-up of dirt and not be in contact with toxic materials, condensation or mould.
According to the Food Standards Agency, workplaces should enable suitable conditions for handling and storing food while keeping it at appropriate temperatures. Those temperatures should be monitored and, where necessary, recorded.
Are people hygiene aware?
Although many of us will grab a sandwich at our desks or use a plate from the office kitchen for a salad we’ve brought from home, thinking about keeping things clean, even when it is as informal as this, matters.
The rules are, quite rightly, strict for people working in food handling, with everyone required to maintain a high level of personal cleanliness, to wear suitable, clean clothing and where necessary, protective clothing.
It could make sense for many of the measures recommended for catering staff to be considered for people using a workplace kitchen, even if they are just putting their own lunch out on a plate. Habits such as washing up any cutlery or plates in hot water, cleaning surfaces with antibacterial cleaning products or using wipes on desks and office equipment before eating at them, is commonsense advice to help prevent transmission of bacteria.
In a professional food environment, anyone who has been unwell or has an infection is required to tell their manager before handling food or entering a food handling area. Bear in mind there could be colleagues who’ve brought themselves to work after being ill and could be using the kitchen when they are still carrying germs, without realising it, so keeping things clean could help to safeguard everyone else.
How is food presented?
The Food Standards Agency says that items used to hold food must not be used for transporting anything other than food where this may cause contamination. Food is expected to be placed and protected in a way that minimises the risk of contamination.
For workplace canteens offering items that people can select themselves, such as sandwiches, and kitchens where people can make their own hot drinks, there are a range of solutions in the VOW catalogue.
Brown and white paper bags in the VOW catalogue are designed for food use, with white bags at 34gsm and brown bags at 70gsm, to allow for different weights and size of food products.
The sandwich bag range from VOW is film fronted, ideal for displaying and serving sandwiches, cakes and other food items. Paper backing helps to preserve the freshness of contents, making these ideal for catering and canteen use.
Drink storage and serving
For hot drink storage and serving, the Take a Break range of solutions by Cep help workplaces to present and store tea bags, coffee capsules, sugar sachets and other items easily and efficiently. Trays, three tier storage modules, distributor trays and small waste bind are among the products that can help end users keep their kitchen and canteen areas tidy and easy to use.
For storing food after it has been opened or cooked, Wrapmaster dispensers are an ideal solution. These dispense and store film and foil efficiently. The patented push down dispensers feature a concealed cutting blade for safety and fold down covers to ensure that film or foil is kept clean and hygienic.