What not to eat at work if you don’t want your co-workers to hate you

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What not to eat at work if you don’t want your co-workers to hate you
WATCH: Global News online reporter Melissa Gilligan has advice on what not to eat at work if you don't want your co-workers to hate you. – Nov 30, 2016

Rule No. 1 of workplace etiquette: don’t microwave fish.

Not only will you get the stink eye from neighbouring colleagues, but staff on the whole floor will likely be nasally assaulted as the pungent aroma wafts through the office.

Also, please don’t let your food become a science experiment in the fridge from which noxious odours then begin to emanate.

Those are just the basics. Ambius, an interior landscaping and scenting firm, delved deeper this month into the universal problem of smelly food at work.

Desktop lunches are at the core of the issue, since 61 per cent of the 1,000 office workers surveyed admit they dine “al desko” three or more times a week.

This leads to a few unfortunate consequences. The mindless distracted desktop dining can contribute to weight gain (because portion control is tougher to manage), as well as germs (since crumbs drop on your keyboard and become a perfect breeding ground for bacteria) — not very appetizing.

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READ MORE: These are the dirtiest places in your office

But the biggest impact of eating at your desk might be on your co-workers, 45 per cent of whom confessed they’d suffered through bad food smells in silence.

A significant chunk (35 per cent) also admitted they hate the sound of their co-workers eating at their desk.

WATCH: Does people’s crunching, slurping and lip-smacking drive you crazy? You may have misophonia, a “rage-inducing” sound sensitivity disorder that one expert says is more common than OCD.

When it came to the stinkiest lunches, though, these were ranked as the 10 worst offenders:

  1. Oily fish (like mackerel or sardines) – 47%
  2. Smelly cheese – 45%
  3. Boiled eggs – 42%
  4. Egg sandwich – 39%
  5. Garlicky foods – 38%
  6. Curry – 37%
  7. Raw onions – 36%
  8. Crustaceans (like prawns) – 32%
  9. Fast food – 28%
  10. Tuna sandwich — 27%

Kimchi did not make the list. Though many find the fermented food delicious, some have likened its smell to rotting garbage. So it might also be best enjoyed at home.

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A U.K. survey in 2015 found close to 70 per cent of people felt their productivity is affected by how their workplace smells.

READ MORE: Unproductive at work? It could be your manager’s fault

On the opposite side of the spectrum are the scents — like freshly-brewed coffee — that appeal to most people’s sense of smell.

The top 10 best-smelling foods were found to be:

  1. Buttered toast – 47%
  2. French pastries – 45%
  3. Bacon sandwich – 42%
  4. Chicken soup – 37%
  5. Tomato soup – 37%
  6. Sausage roll – 37%
  7. Banana* – 36%
  8. Pizza – 35%
  9. Fish and chips – 31%
  10. Spaghetti bolognese – 30%

There’s a portion of the population who finds the smell of bananas revolting, including one Washington Post writer who argued “bananas have the worst B.O. of any fruit.”

SOUND OFF: Is there a smell you can’t stand at work? Vent it out in our comments section below.


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