Do Europeans office workers have the right idea? They take a real lunch break—no multitasking and no eating at their desks.
Recent studies have compiled data on the number of Americans who forego a lunch break away from the office or at least away from their desks, and these studies show desks to be unsanitary places in which to dine.
The American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods’ Home Food Safety program's survey, Desktop Dining Survey: 2011 Results, said 83 percent of Americans typically eat in their office or cubicle in an effort to save time and money—62 percent eat lunch; 50 percent snack at their desk; 27 percent eat breakfast; and 4 percent of Americans eat dinner at their desktop.
The survey revealed the majority of Americans are playing Russian roulette with food safety by eating at their desks. The findings come nearly four years after a University of Arizona study revealed desks carry 100 percent more bacteria than kitchen tables and 400 percent more pathogens than toilet seats. Only 36 percent of people surveyed said they clean their work area once a week, and 64 percent do it once a month or less.
When it comes to safe refrigeration of lunches, perishable foods need to be refrigerated within two hours (one hour if the temperature is greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit) from when it was removed from the refrigerator at home. Survey results showed 49 percent of respondents admitted to letting perishable food sit out for three or more hours, meaning foods may have begun to spoil before the first bite.
“For many people, multitasking through lunch is part of the average workday," said registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Toby Smithson in a prepared statement. “While shorter lunch hours may result in getting more accomplished, they could also be causing workers to log additional sick days, as desktops hide bacteria that can lead to foodborne illness."
By the way, consider yourself lucky if your employer gives you a lunch break. On April 12, the California Supreme Court ruled that employers are under no obligation to ensure that workers take legally mandated lunch breaks, according to an Associated Press report posted by salon.com.
The unanimous opinion came after workers’ attorneys argued that abuses are routine and widespread when companies aren’t required to issue direct orders to take the breaks. They claimed employers take advantage of workers who don’t want to leave colleagues during busy times. But the high court sided with businesses when it ruled that requiring companies to order breaks is unmanageable and that those decisions should be left to workers.
As for Patch Poll: How much do you plan to spend on your teen’s prom?
The most popular answer was: $251-$500, with 41 percent.
Other answers and percentages were:
- 0-$250, 36 percent,
- $501-$750: 14 percent and
- $751-$1,000: 7 percent
No one said they are planning to spend more than $1,000, proving Patch readers are frugal and smart.
Readers’ comments about prom in general discussed the need for this right of passage but not the need for parents to finance it. Kari Fikar said, "I paid for everything for my senior prom in 2006. The dress, shoes, makeup, hair, boutineer, etc. I say if they want it, make them work for it."