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The Demise of Good Table Manners

Old fashioned table manners are dying out. Many people now regularly get up from the table before everyone else has finished, while others happily rest their elbows on the table.

A study of 2000 adults found the majority of us now rarely have dinner as a family (and when we do, the mobile, laptop or even games consoles often join us at the table).

Emma Gray, spokesperson for Birmingham Food Fest, which conducted the study, said: "Food is an important part of family life and dining together is a great way to spend quality time with loved ones, which should be an enjoyable experience for all.
"With family meal times becoming more and more rare, people should be making the most of the time they do have together - without the distractions of magazines, laptops and mobiles.
"Rather than rushing our food we should savour mealtimes and learn to really appreciate the food put in front of us."


Shockingly, 40% don't wash their hands before dinner and 36% claim to wolf down their food rather than seeing the evening meal as a relaxing time for the family.

The study also showed that:
Bad Table Manners

Bullet • 73% of people would ask for dessert before everyone else had finished the main course;
Bullet • Four in five respondents would think nothing of leaving the room halfway through the meal to go to the toilet;
Bullet • 58% frequently lean on the table with both elbows when getting bored, committing a once cardinal sin of proper etiquette;
Bullet • Four in ten think nothing of using the smart phone while eating with the family, making phone calls, texting or checking emails (with cuddly toys, books, magazines and hand-held computer consoles also making their way onto our dinner tables).
Burping, slurping drinks, licking the knife and picking food from teeth are just some of the other bad habits adults display at the dinner table while 13 per cent of families allow a mountain of toys to rest next to the dinner plates.

Emma Gray continues: "Increasingly busy lifestyles are just one of the factors to be blamed for a decline in table manners, but eating together should always be a good experience for those we are dining with.
"To mark the start of our annual Food Fest, which launches on the 13th July, we have put together tips to help make mealtimes something to look forward to."


The research also indicates that a fifth of adults say they are guilty of not teaching their children enough good table manners - a situation which is exacerbated by the fact that 35% of British children eat their dinner in front of the television on more than three nights of the week.

Bad Table Etiquette
Indeed, one in ten parents admit their children get their worst table habits from them - and aren't surprised to see the children blowing food aggressively to cool it down, fidgeting when at the table and stuffing their mouth with too much food.

Other bad habits adults claim their kids have include spilling food, using their fingers to eat instead of the cutlery, talking with their mouth full and using toilet humour at the dinner table.

Bad Table Etiquette

1. Get down from the table halfway through dinner to use the toilet - 82%
2. Ask about dessert before everyone has finished the main course - 73%
3. Wave the knife and fork around between mouthfuls - 73%
4. Help yourself to drinks, seconds etc without asking - 70%
5. Don't bother washing hands before dinner - 62%
6. Rest on the table with both elbows - 58%
7. Hold knife and fork in the wrong hands - 56%
8. Don't bother thanking the person who made the meal - 56%
9. Leave knife and fork apart when meal is finished - 54%
10.Don't bother to say please or thank you - 52%
11.Tear food off with teeth rather than cutting properly - 52%
12.Eat too fast - 36%
13.Eat with mouth open - 35%
14.Leaving food you don't like rather than trying - 22%
15.Rudely push the plate away when finished - 13%
16.Use the smart phone at the table - 12%
17.Lean across someone to reach the salt and pepper - 11%
18.Burp - 11%
19.Serve too much food and then leave it all - 11%
20.Lick the knife - 11%

10 July 2012
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