Anna Soubry: Eating a sandwich at your desk is ‘disgusting’ and office workers should take a proper lunch break, warns minister

January 24th, 20132:18 pm @


  • Health minister Anna Soubry criticised Britain’s ‘weird’ relationship with food
  • The MP urged people to spend more time preparing and savouring meals

Kerry Mcdermott

09:30, 24 January 2013


13:38, 24 January 2013

‘Disgusting’: Anna Soubry said office workers should take proper lunch breaks rather than eating sandwiches over their computer keyboards

A minister has described office workers’ lunchtime habit of eating a sandwich at their desk as ‘disgusting’.

Health minister Anna Soubry said busy workers should not eat over their computer keyboards, but should take a proper lunch break to give them time to ‘enjoy’ their food.

Ms Soubry also said it was ironic that Britons enjoy watching celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver in action on the television, yet ‘we don’t as a nation, any more, cook’.

Highlighting Britain’s ‘weird’ relationship with food, the MP urged people to take more time to prepare and savour their meals.

‘We are a weird nation,’ Ms Soubry said.

‘We consume television programmes about cooking, all the books, but we don’t as a nation, any more, cook.’

Ms Soubry – who revealed she has forbidden the use of the word ‘fat’ in her home to try and prevent her daughters from becoming obsessed with their weight – said she encouraged staff at her constituency office in Nottingham to take time out for a meal at lunchtime.

‘It’s disgusting eating over a keyboard,’ she said, adding that a proper lunch break provided workers with time to ‘chill out, get your head back together, and enjoy what you’re eating’.

However, the Broxtowe MP does admit to eating lunch in her office herself, a report in the Daily Telegraph said.

Ms Soubry, 56, sparked controversy this week after suggesting a person’s weight could be an indication of their social background.

The politician said people from poor families were more likely to be obese, and that it was ‘almost possible’ to guess a person’s background by their size.

‘Weird nation’: Britons are ‘weird’ when it comes to food, according to health minister Anna Soubry

Speaking at an event in London hosted by the Food and Drink Federation, Ms Soubry said parents had the ‘primary responsibility’ of ensuring their children ate properly.

‘It is a heartbreaking fact that people who are some of the most deprived in our society are living on an inadequate diet,’ she said.

‘But this time it’s an abundance of bad food. When I was at school you could tell the demography of children by how thin they were. You could see by looking at their eyes.

‘When I go to my constituency, in fact when I walk around, you can almost now tell somebody’s background by their weight.

‘Obviously, not everybody who is overweight comes from deprived backgrounds but that’s where the propensity lies,’ she added.

The minister said she regularly saw children in her constituency buying crisps and fizzy drinks for their breakfast.

Ms Soubry has also warned of the negative impact of the culture of TV dinners.

Set mealtimes help to provide structure in children’s lives and discourage them from snacking on crisps and fast food, she said.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Read what she actually says, it’s more about the country’s attitude to food and she’s merely trying to start a debate. True, she’s used the wrong example as I know quite a few people who eat sandwiches at their desk only because they’re so snowed under, mainly due to cutbacks and redundancies or they’re making sure they don’t get made redundant next. However, she is right in her saying this country has a weird relationship with food – just look at the preponderance of take aways on High Streets, or check out the restaurants in resorts where Brits go, everything comes with chips.


London, United Kingdom,
24/1/2013 14:18

Get a life love, if I could poop at my desk I would. Not enough hours in the working day I’m afraid.


24/1/2013 14:17

not worth going out for HALF an hour must be public sector that still get an hour

David Bowden

manchester, United Kingdom,
24/1/2013 14:16

This is from a woman on a two hour lunch break with glass of wine paid for by mugs like us.

Mr Tambourine Man.

Desolation Row, UK.,
24/1/2013 14:16

She’s still opening her mouth and putting her foot in it the stupid woman!

Ray Smith

24/1/2013 14:16

She’s right, it’s pathetic and downright disgusting. You wouldn’t eat in the toilet, would ya?


London, United Kingdom,
24/1/2013 14:16

That makes me disgusting then. I would love to have somewhere to take a proper lunchbreak but like so many in the real world, I have a 90 minute journey home. If I want to get my work done and get away at a reasonable time so I don’t lose my entire evening, eating while I work is a necessity. I’m not am MP so I don’t get that luxury.


24/1/2013 14:15

I think this is sad – it shows again how the government has no idea of the reality of people’s lives and the time pressures most people are under and will be even more so when 20 mph speed limits increase in number.


Nantwich, United Kingdom,
24/1/2013 14:15

The nanny state just won’t go away. This PC twit must come from the left side of the Tory party. C


24/1/2013 14:15

I used to get irritated by people who felt that they could not leave their desks for a minute even to take their half statutory break for a) not giving us a break from them and also them a break from us,b) turning their desks into a mini supermarket with all manner of packets, food, fruit and cutlery not to mention aromas including that of gone off food c) leaving food debris, dirty cutlery crumbs greasy fingermarks on desks d) leaving food marks on files ugh not nice picking that up six months later and worst of all grazing all day without ever washing hands and using keyboards all the while. DISGUSTING! All offices by law have to have an area where you can eat and make a drink you need to take a break away from your desk especially if you use a keyboard.


West Country, United Kingdom,
24/1/2013 14:13

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