For the Environmental Protection Agency, this month’s government shutdown had at least one silver lining: the chance to clean out the office fridge. According to the Washington Post, furloughed workers at the EPA’s Chicago headquarters received this email from EPA chief Gina McCarthy upon returning to work:
“During the shutdown, we made every effort to water accessible plants. And of necessity, the refrigerators were emptied of all perishable foodstuffs last week. The oldest food found? A can of Campbell’s soup dated 1997! So, please remember it is everyone’s responsibility to keep the refrigerators clean.”
That's right: A can of soup made when Seinfeld was still on air.
Shutdown or no shutdown, let this be a lesson to all those not privy to the delights of a personal refrigerator: Keep the place clean, and take responsibility for your lunch, lest a meat-borne biohazard blossoms in the face of your colleagues, showering their workspace with the spores of your negligence. That also means keeping your hands off other people’s lunches!
It’s alarming how often this kindergarten concept seems to fly under the radar of America’s workers. Just last week we wrote about a Pennsylvania man who called the cops because someone, presumably a coworker, stole his precious Jell-O snack. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
Affronts to basic office etiquette aside, such unsanitary practices can actually be quite dangerous. Toxins can build up in soiled foods, and over time fungal infections can spread pathogens to the rest of the fridge. It’s no joke: Routine fridge cleaning is vitally important, especially in communal refrigerators, which are often neglected due to their ancillary function.
If you want to be scared straight, check out this gallery of unsavory fridge neglect published by the Huffington Post.