Time to eat? You’ve got 3.5 minutes…

LONDON, May 18, 2006 (AFP) – The average British worker spends just 3.5 minutes on average actually eating lunch, in order to cram as much as possible into their break, according to a survey published Thursday. The study of 2,000 people suggested nearly two-thirds (64 percent) tried to fit a number of activities into their lunch break other than eating, while 32 percent said it was their only chance in the day to do “essential jobs”.

These ranged from online banking to Internet shopping, forcing the process of essential body refuelling to take a back seat, the poll by London-based mobile phone outfit Dial-a-Phone said.

In fact, workers were found to spend three times as long choosing, queuing and paying for their food than they did wolfing it down, it added.

Britons are said to work the longest hours in the European Union, and a separate study earlier this year found the traditional 60-minute break has now shrunk to an average 19 minutes.

“Al desco” eating — munching lunch at one’s computer terminal — has raised concern, as well as the demise of the lunchtime pint as firms ban drinking alcohol during office hours for fear of litigation.