Another blow to employees in the workplace

Food Standards Agency says ‘no’ to sweets and cakes in the office

The team at TALiNT Towers wishes this was satire, however, we’re sad to say it is not.

As if employees aren’t being hit hard enough by falling living wages and the cost-of-living crisis, a food advisor has said that workers should no longer bring sweets and cakes into the office.

Food Standards Agency Chairwoman, Prof Susan Jebb has compared bringing cakes into the office to passive smoking… She said: “If nobody brought cakes into the office, I would not eat cakes.” When interviewed by the Times newspaper and speaking in her personal capacity, she said employees should stop testing the willpower of their colleagues.

While we feel it isn’t necessary to ask an expert whether adults should take responsibility for their own health, the BBC spoke to GP Helen Wall, who said that people had to take responsibility for their own health. The family doctor who practises in Bolton said: “If someone’s got a cake next to you, you don’t have to eat it, do you?”

Prof Jebb, also a Professor of Diet and Population at the University of Oxford, said eating cake was a choice but colleagues could help each other by providing ‘a supportive environment’. She argued that being around cake in the office was like passive smoking, which though not identical also inflicted harm on others – just when you thought you’d heard it all.

NOTHING SPECIAL

Lou Walker, who authored a report on office cake culture, told BBC 5 Live that it was becoming an everyday occurrence and was “no longer special”.

“[It] comes from a place of generosity and kindness, wanting to share,” she said. “There’s something very important about sharing food with colleagues. “But what is happening now is it’s happening every single day and that means that it’s no longer special.”

She said her research showed people “aren’t wanting it all the time, but people are worried about sticking their head above the parapet.”

In many workplaces cake, biscuits and sweets – brought by colleagues returning from holiday or to celebrate last days and birthdays – can start a scramble as hungry and sweet-toothed colleagues try to get their hands on the treats.

It is a rare workplace that breaks the tradition and supplies a fruit platter. And who wants to be known as the one staff member who brings in healthy nuts rather than chocolates as they regale colleagues about their weekend in Switzerland?

Dr Wall said it was fine to have some pleasures in the workplace. Thank you Dr Wall. She was quoted by the BBC as saying that it feels like we’re trying to control everything but at the end of the day, everyone has to have a little bit of willpower.

For one worker, a love of sweet treats in the office did not go down well with his colleagues.

While temping in an office in south London, Mick used to bring in biscuits, doughnuts, and chocolate bar multipacks, which he would “munch on” all day as well offering them out.

But he claimed he was told by management his diet was “aggressive” to his female co-workers who were trying to be health conscious.

“The ladies would say ‘no, they’re watching their weight’,” he said.

As to the government’s official position, the prime minister’s official spokesman said Rishi Sunak believed “personal choice should be baked into our approach”. Was this pun intended?

He added: “We want to encourage healthy lifestyles and are taking action to tackle obesity, which has cost the NHS £6bn annually. However, the way to deal with this issue is not to stop people from occasionally bringing in treats for their co-workers.”

Debbie Walton, Editor at TALiNT Partners commented: “As someone who is partial to cake, I’d be more offended if my colleagues didn’t bring cake into the office for their birthdays. I think this is one area in office operations where staff should be allowed to make their own choices… If you’ve employed adults, they’re more than capable to say no to over-indulging. Let them eat the cake!”

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