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In Bad Taste

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Office lunch

Modern life is having a detrimental effect on our ability to fully enjoy the taste of foods – because we wolf down meals too quickly, it has emerged.

A team of experts who studied the way we eat and the time in which we consume meals amid our hectic work schedules found we have become a nation of ‘mindless eaters’.

The results of the study, which was a combination of lab based work and market research found only 28 per cent of us savour our food as we eat it, and as many as 60 per cent rarely or never properly taste food because they eat it so rapidly.

Alarmingly, the lab team also found many of the 30-strong panel consumed their food so quickly they were unable to identify common ingredients such as tuna, chicken and pork.

In fact, participants were able to only correctly identify 35 per cent of the ingredients and most were unable to discern beef from Chinese pork. Additionally, 92 per cent couldn’t tell ham from tuna and 82 per cent were able to tell the difference between Quorn from chicken, with another 78 per cent unable to distinguish pork from chicken.

Yesterday Dr David Lewis of Mindlab, which carried out the research for food brand Glorious, said: ”The abundance of great flavours and the range of food experiences have never been more plentiful in the UK, nor more diverse, yet our findings suggest consumers are lazy when it comes to tasting and appreciating their food.

”I doubt there’s ever been such a rich tapestry of food and flavour combinations at our disposal, yet we’re not savouring what we eat, which is not just a shame but a genuine waste of taste.

”Our lunchtime habits in particular show that workers consume food as a means to refuelling the body and most never, or rarely, taste what they’re eating.

Dr David Lewis continued: ”Apart from denying ourselves the pleasure that savouring tasty, well-cooked and presented food provides, there are other negative consequences of ‘mindless eating.

”Because we eat inattentively the food is often insufficiently and inefficiently chewed.

”Mastication, the process in which the food in our mouth is broken into smaller fragments and thoroughly mixed with saliva, represents the first stage of digestion.

”Saliva contains a digestive enzyme essential for the proper absorption of the meal. If this stage is bypassed, as it typically is when consuming food inattentively, the results can range from indigestion and heartburn to an inadequate uptake of essential nutrients from the food.

“Poor mastication also means that we fail to savour and appreciate the true taste and texture of the meal.”

The market research aspect of the project revealed almost half of 1,000 adults polled described their lunch as ‘a means to an end’ to refuel their body. It also emerged 59 per cent spend less than 15 minutes eating lunch and just 21 per cent spend just five to 10 minutes eating lunch, with just 20 per cent describing their lunch as ‘really enjoyable’.

The survey also discovered 42 per cent of British workers eat at their place of work most days with just 13 per cent leaving their desk for a bite to eat.

In response to the findings food brand Glorious, which commissioned the study, has launched the world’s first online Flavour Map – a global, crowd sourced resource – to inspire as well as re-educate consumers about flavour and taste, as well as unearthing little-known global flavours to launch for the UK market.

The interactive flavour map – – a ‘Tripadvisor for taste’ allows people to pin flavours ‘from around the globe or around the corner’ such as meals, recipes, or natural produce, and search for flavour inspiration of their own.

Our findings suggest consumers are lazy when it comes to tasting and appreciating their food.

Dr David Lewis, Researcher at Mindlab

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