Horrors of the Office Fridge

Wherever I’ve worked, the same horrors have lurked in the Office Fridge. Specimens (and the chance for colleagues to own up and claim their “foodstuffs”):

  1. Half pint of low-fat organic nasty looking soy-milk, around 4-6 months old

  2. Small pot of strawberry yoghurt - hidden far to the back of the fridge - sell-by date believed to predate the birth of Christ

  3. Something wrapped up in various plastic bags - untouched since the company was founded - that no one has dared to open or attempt to indentify

  4. An old bag of carrot sticks possibly from the paeolithic age

  5. Eight small foil-wrapped pats of butter swiped from some restaurant or cafe

  6. Normal milk once white, now orangey brown and clear

  7. Two thirds of a very withered apple (who the fuck cuts out one third of an apple? isn’t it easier to halve and quarter?)

  8. Several other items that corporate archaeologists have yet to identify.

Anyone recognise anything?

oh, and I forgot about that…

We had a putrid smell every time the door was opened. This went on for about two months and nobody did anything about it because it wasn’t theirs. Finally I took a look around and found a pound of butter which had gone off a considerably long time ago. I chucked it and the atmosphere improved immediately.

I was displeased to find the bottles of breastmilk in the freezer. A co-worker was pumping on her way to and from work…on the bus…and at her desk…and washing the implements and leaving them to dry in the office kitchen. A friend who worked in the cubicle next to her dreaded hearing the purr of the pump.

We just recently called up our Facilities Manager to help us with our fridge.

People had been putting stuff in there and leaving it. Leftovers from lunches out, meeting food that was left over, set out, and then refrigerated as if someone would eat it later… Months old cream cheese from the day someone brought in bagels, leftover birthday cake, leftover strawberry sauce from the day someone brought in cheesecake…

The refrigerator was a solid wall of food. I swear you couldn’t fit anything ELSE in it.

I personally have gotten to the point where I take responsibility for some stuff. If it sits in there for a week, and is clearly left over from a meeting and doesn’t belong to someone specific - I pitch it. Who’s really going to miss a week old turkey sandwich? Especially when you know that it sat out all afternoon on a platter before it started its trip in the fridge.

They need to clean our fridge out EVERY week and throw out EVERYTHING that gets left. No questions asked. Then people would be more vigilant about their stuff. But as it is…

And as for the breast milk, I’ve not seen it in the fridge, but I have walked into the restroom and heard the purr of the pump from one of the stalls. Not having children, I had no idea what the sound was. You can imagine what I thought might be going on in there…

Put a sign on the door - “Everything Goes Friday at 4 PM!” - and stick to it - worked wonders in our office

Our fridge was such a disaster, I just started carrying my lunch in a small cooler. But several years ago, before I changed my ways, we used to have to deal with people who’d spill and leave the mess, ancient furry stuff, way too old fruit juices, an accumulation of salad dressings, mystery packets. Plus it wasn’t an automatic defrost, so the freezer accumulated enough ice that you couldn’t close the door.

So, I posted a note that I was gonna clean it, and I came in before work hours with a bucket and some rags. I had people all pissed off because they couldn’t put their baggies in there while I was cleaning (what got to me was that they weren’t even from our office - they came from the other end of the building!!) I disassembled the innards and scrubbed the whole thing out. I thawed the freezer. It was a thing of beauty… for a couple of weeks.

I also notice that it’s never the men in this office who clean it - always the women.

Then there’s the microwaves…

Oddly enough, I started a thread along these lines [URL=http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=110111&highlight=celrayjust the other day.

My boss once left a partially eaten turkey sandwich on her desk. The rest of us took bets on how long it would sit on her desk growing mold. It sat there from Feb 4, 2002 until it disappeared (or walked off) on either March 9th or 10th. I realize this is not the refer, but it seemed like it fit.

In the refer:

  1. endumi (sp?) with a December expiration date

  2. moldy cheese

3.a 40 Oz. “Phat Boy” malt liquor-approx three years old. No idea where this came from.

  1. open, unsealed cans of:

4a. cranberry sauce
4b. peaches
4c. fruit cocktail

  1. crusty open box of do-nettes (very old)

  2. crusty open boxes of cookies. There are a few packs of smokes buried in the boxes of cookies.

  3. several bottles of (congealed) salad dressings. I have never seen anyone other than me eating a salad…and I won’t touch those bottles.

I read an article a while back on how offices and desks were havens for bacteria. Phones and keyboards especially, though I can imagine microwaves and refrigerators are just as bad. I’ll have to see if I can find the cite.

Our office, which is predominantly men, does have a few who clean out the fridges. “Langoliers,” we call them.

I am also in an office that throws everything out weekly. If you don’t save your stuff at 3pm on Friday, you’re screwed.

Then again, I think some people do the service of helping clean it out early. My friend Dan went into the kitchen only to find that the lunch he brought in this morning was a no-show.


This is so weird and freaky! Everyone is reporting the same stuff. We also frequently get the left-over-cream-cheese-bagel-breakfast phenomenon in our fridge.

Plus the gunky decomposing salad-dressing things.

And yet… I also never see anyone eating anything similar ever. All the work restaurants cafes serve pre-dressed salad. The only person who brings their own salad in doesn’t use dressing. So whose it it?

At our location, our facilities folks leant a key to an empty office to a woman who pumped regularily. She could use the room in private to hear heart’s (breast’s?) content and the rest of the workers weren’t disturbed.


At the breakroom at a news station where a friend of mine works there were bagels and (I thought I was lucky at the time) cream cheese. Now after reading this thread I’m wondering if I was so lucky to find some cream cheese…

My office fridge is shared by about 40 people. A couple of years ago a cow-orker and I started doing the following.

Day before - Agree that tomorrow will be “fridge day!”

Fridge Day
9 am - send email that the fridge will be cleaned at 1 pm. Anything that is not labeled with a note stating todays date will be thrown away.

1 pm - Tape “POLICE LINE - DO NOT CROSS” tape across fridge doors.

1:02 pm - Walk through building taking bets ($1 each) on:

a. oldest salad dressing
b. oldest yogurt container
c. oldest date on previously liquid drink
d. oldest date on anything.

1:30 - Cow-orker and I empty fridge. Anything with a past due date is thrown away. Anything we can’t identify is thrown away. Anything we want to throw away is thrown away. Any thing we WANT is tagged, “YOU HAVE (48 Hours) TO CLAIM THIS.”

2:15 - We send an email that we are having a party in the conference room with all the ice cream left over from the last 8 months birthday parties.

2:25 - Pay off bets.