Tea and cake breaks are healthy for office morale

It saddens me deeply that the chair of a national agency should be so dismissive of the human relations aspect of work (People should not take cakes into the office, suggests food watchdog chief, 17 January). Many friendships develop in occupational settings, and I recall fondly playing cricket for my first psychology department, and playing an elephant in my first hospital Christmas pantomime. Decades later, I am still in contact with friends I made in those two jobs.

The late Bill Keatinge demonstrated the value of a weekly collective tea break with a few biscuits or cupcakes. The then London Hospital Medical College had many departments, but the friendliest and perhaps the most stable and productive was the department where Prof Keatinge budgeted for someone to make tea, where workmates who wanted a sit-down chat knew they would all be welcome. I would not support a constant exposure to sugar and fat (that might be obesogenic), but in work settings where there is no opportunity to play a pantomime elephant (or even to have a leisurely lunch together), it may be quite supportive sometimes to share tea and cake.
Woody Caan
Retired professor of public health

• Prof Susan Jebb, chairwoman of the Food Standards Agency, suggests that people should not bring cake into the office for the sake of their colleagues’ health. She has a point. Although retired for a number of years, I still remember how difficult it was to resist temptation on the frequent occasions that colleagues brought in delicious home-baked cakes when I worked for Food Standards Agency Wales.
Mike Pender