Special Topics in Safety Management, Training

Be Safe with Those Thanksgiving Leftovers!

For some people, leftovers are the best part of the Thanksgiving dinner. But those leftovers can be deadly if not handled properly. In today’s Advisor, we provide valuable information you can share with employees on how to deal with leftovers safely.

You can use this information in a brief toolbox training talk or as a quick aside during a morning safety meeting or even print it up as a handout for workers to take home.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

In short: Know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.

When should you discard something to ensure that no one gets sick from contamination? Food can look and smell good, but if it is not handled properly, germs can poison it and make consumers sick. People can get sick if germs, viruses, pesticides, or cleaning agents get into food or drinks.

Here are some guidelines on when food should be discarded because of possible contamination:

  • Food must be discarded if it has not been cooled or heated to the appropriate temperature within the time required for safety. If the freezer, refrigerator, hot plate, or warming oven fails and the temperature of the food is in the danger zone, the food must be discarded. (Between 45°F and 140°F or 7°C to 60°C is the danger zone in which foods are most likely to become contaminated by germs. Additionally, 165°F or 74°C is the minimum temperature to which food must be reheated.)
  • Also dispose of food that is in a container or package that is not labeled or dated or if it is past the expiration date.
  • Food should also be discarded if it has become unsafe or adulterated, such as if something unnecessary has been added. It should be discarded if you suspect that bacteria is growing in the food.
  • Dispose of any ready-to-eat food that may have been contaminated by a sick person. Also, dispose of food that has been contaminated by someone through contact with hands, sneezing, coughing, or other means.

Why It Matters

  • Food poisoning can be a serious situation requiring hospitalization and, of course, time away from work.
  • Wellness training that helps employees keep themselves and their family members protected from food poisoning can keep them healthy and on the job.
  • Such training can be formal or informal, such as including a food safety story in the company newsletter or intranet posting area.