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One Man’s Meat Is Another Man’s Poison

, , , , , , | Healthy | September 6, 2019

(I work at a store with around 80 to 100 total employees. In the last few months, there have been a surprising number of people missing work due to food poisoning, about 20 times in the last three or four months. Emails have been going around, with some people complaining, some passive-aggressively implying people are making it up or blowing it out of proportion, and a few of us trying to actually make lists of restaurants in the area workers might go out to eat, or where they shopped, to see trends. We get a lot of people in the store, even if they have not had food poisoning, to describe their lunch habits. Still, even with the information, nothing really seems to add up. Some of the people usually get lunch at the restaurants nearby, but none of the restaurants seem more likely than others. Sometimes it was pizza, sometimes it was people bringing leftovers that had been fine the day before, sometimes they had eaten out, sometimes they had not. None of it seems to make a lot of sense. Today, I am in our break room for lunch when I see a coworker putting a few chicken wings on a napkin into one of the two microwaves. After a moment, something clicks in my head and I look back at the microwave with chicken inside.)

Me: “Hey, [Coworker], are you cooking chicken?”

Coworker: “Yeah! [Grocery Store] sells bags of frozen wings. They make a good lunch.”

Me: “Are they precooked?”

Coworker: “No, you have to cook them. Our microwave takes forever, though.”

Me: “Okay, so, you cook the frozen wings in the microwave?”

Coworker: “Just put them in the refrigerator in the morning and they defrost by lunchtime.”

Me: “Okay, gotcha.”

(Throughout the conversation, I don’t think my coworker picks up on my disbelief, so I just sit down and watch him as he plays on his phone, occasionally checking the chicken. At the end, the napkin the wings are on is clearly soggy with something, so he grabs another paper towel and wipes off the glass tray in the microwave, then wipes off the counter where there are a few drips. He then sets the napkin down on one of the tables and eats from it. We have paper plates on hand, but he just has the wings on a napkin. Once he finishes, he throws out the bones and gets another napkin to wipe off the damp spot left on the table under his napkin, throws it out, and goes back to the sales floor.)

Me: *on a walkie-talkie* “Hey, [Manager], could you meet me in the break room, please? I might have found the cause of the recent food issues.”

(The manager gave him a talking-to, but he genuinely did not seem to understand why what he was doing was a huge health risk. We heavily sanitized the break room with bleach, and here’s hoping the food poisoning issues are done with.)