Modern day family ditch dining etiquette

Old fashioned table manners are dying out - with mobile phones now as likely to be found next to our dinner plate during a family meal as a knife and fork, it emerged yesterday.

Putting one's knife and fork together and closing our mouths whilst eating are also no longer seen as necessary amid our busy lives.

Additionally the study found while the majority of us rarely have dinner as a family, when we do, the mobile, laptop or even games consoles often join us at the table.

Emma Gray, spokeswomen for Birmingham Food Fest, which conducted the study of 2,000 adults, 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.

Incredibly, 52 per cent of adults don't even bother cutting up their food properly.

four in 10 don't wash their hands before dinner, and 36 per cent scoff all their food in a couple of minutes rather than eating at a more leisurely pace.

The study showed 73 per cent of people would ask for dessert before everyone else had finished the main course and four in five respondents would think nothing of leaving the room halfway through the meal to go to the toilet, whilst 58 per cent frequently lean on the table with both elbows when getting bored.

Cutlery is rarely used properly - two third of Brits would wave their knife and fork around between mouthfuls, rather than resting them carefully on the edge of the plate. And 56 per cent of adults admit they don't even hold the knife and fork in the correct hands when eating.

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. In addition, four in 10 adults would think nothing of using the smart phone while eating with the family, making phone calls, texting or checking emails.

A further 10 per cent of Brits work on the laptop while eating, and 13 per cent of families allow a mountain of toys to rest next to the dinner plates. Cuddly toys, books, magazines and hand-held computer consoles are just some of the other items families commonly have at the dinner table.

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 an online etiquette guide which can be downloaded from to help people perfect their table manners and 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 per cent of British children eat their dinner in front of the television on more than three nights of the week.

Indeed, one in 10 parents admit their children get their worst table habits from them - and aren't surprised to see the children blowing food aggressively to cook 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.

Following the success of the inaugural Birmingham Food Fest in 2011, which saw 70,000 people descend on the city, this year will see a range of irresistible restaurant promotions and a mouth-watering programme of food and drink themed events across the city centre.



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



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