The door creaks open slowly and you peer in through the sliver of light. It’s disgusting, shocking and the smell, it is indescribable.
Once you see, you cannot unsee the horror that lurks from behind the office refrigerator door. There is a half eaten tray of grocery store sushi that appears to be crawling across the top shelf. There is a container of milk that is now either very good cheese or a very bad sign. There is a teetering, tower of half eaten takeout rice containers threatening to topple. There is a plastic bag labeled ‘Sara’s sandwich’ but it is filled with liquid and the contents of the bag are pulsing. There is a container labeled 'ranch dressing', but it is green. It is green, people! In fact the colours are really quite amazing if you can block out the smell. There are black carrots, grey ham, gelatinous, green gooey takeout, and various Tupperware filled with a dark sludge that will never, never be used for human consumption again. And of course one, in the corner of a shelf is a four-year old box of baking soda that gave up a long time ago.
The horrors of the scary office refrigerator are real and they can be shocking, so shocking that even the most seasoned office cleaning teams may run screaming from them. And not only is that dirty office fridge disgusting, it’s actually presents significant health risks. So how can you work with your employees and your office cleaning company to make sure your office refrigerator isn’t an unspeakable den of horrors threatening to turn your team into the ‘walking dead’?
Keep It Cool & Reduce the Risk of Your Office Refrigerator Turning on You
Keep your office refrigerator at a safe temperature, which is 40 °F or lower. The science behind it is that refrigeration slows bacterial growth. Bacteria exist everywhere in nature, but they love your refrigerator. Those little guys are not usually a big problem but when they have ample nutrients (food), moisture, and favorable growth temperatures, they positively flourish, good for them, bad for you. When those bacteria increase in numbers, it can make you sick. Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 °F, the "Danger Zone," some doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. A refrigerator set at 40 °F or below will protect most foods.The hard part with an office refrigerator is that it is opened far more often than most home refrigerators making maintaining a safe temperature a bit more tricky.
A Terrifying Office Refrigerator Is Also A Health Risk
It is not uncommon to feel like no one in your office cares about the scary state of the office refrigerator. But god forbid you throw out their three-week old Thai and suddenly they want to know what you did with their precious Pad Thai. So, if you feel like you are the only one who cares about the cleanliness of the office refrigerator, make it a food safety issue. Old food provides a fantastic growth medium for illness causing bacteria. If your office refrigerator is chronically dirty, it may become a major risk of food borne illness. No amount of work from your office cleaning company can overcome the risk of illness with a refrigerator left is a chronically sorry state.
Help Your Office Cleaning Company Help You
Most of the problems with funky office refrigerators stem from a lack of personal accountability because the office refrigerator is not ‘owned’ by any one person so no one feels a responsibility to take care of it. Still, no matter how talented your office cleaning company is, they cannot clean around twenty, dripping takeout containers. Look, Steve in Accounting is never going to part with his three-week old Pad Thai, at this point, they have a dysfunctional relationship and you are going to have to take a hard stand with both of them. The general rule of thumb for refrigerator storage for cooked leftovers is four days.Really, in an office refrigerator where it is opened over and over again making a consistent internal temperature less likely, food should sit on shelves even less.
So, if your office doesn’t already have a schedule for cleaning, why not make it a habit to throw out all perishable items left in the refrigerator at the end of every week. Your office refrigerator is not a right it is a convenience so anyone that wants his or her milk or salad dressing should take it home at the end of the week. If this is a new process, you might want to post a note that all contents will be emptied on Friday so that your office cleaning company can give the refrigerator a thorough cleaning. That way your office cleaning team can go in and do their job without trying to decipher use by dates or struggle to identify what stays and what goes.
Once your office refrigerator is empty, or at least near empty, your office cleaning company can do their magic and defunk one of your offices funkiest spots. We recommend that you empty your office refrigerator at the end of each week so your office cleaning company can clean it weekly. Don’t let your office refrigerator become the stuff of nightmares. Work with your office cleaning company to help keep your fridge from become the start of the next epidemic and keep your work environment safe, clean and healthy.