Consumers..., if in doubt, speak out - NI release

safefood calls on consumers to speak out against poor food hygiene standards

24 March, 2008. Earlier today, safefood launched the second phase of its public awareness campaign designed to educate consumers about their rights with regard to food hygiene standards when eating outside the home and called on consumers to speak out if they are not satisfied.

Endorsed by both the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland and the National Consumer Agency, the ‘Speak Out’ campaign aims to raise the overall standards of food hygiene in food outlets on the island of Ireland.

Speaking earlier today, Mr. Martin Higgins, Chief Executive, safefood , said “Food safety is a right, not a privilege and consumers should not settle for anything other than the highest standards. Our campaign provides consumers with information on what to watch out for in relation to food safety.

The second phase of the Speak Out campaign focuses on delis and sandwich shops. Research conducted by safefood has revealed that 1 in 3 people on the island of Ireland are concerned about hygiene in sandwich bars. The cleanliness of food premises, the kitchen and the staff topped the list of hygiene aspects causing consumers concern2.

More and more food is now consumed outside the home, with delis making up a substantial part of the market³. Research has shown that 61% of people purchase lunch outside the home, with the majority of these (43%) stating they buy a sandwich. “We know from recent safefood research that over half of consumers on the island of Ireland were reluctant to speak out if they were unhappy with food hygiene standards”, continued Mr. Higgins. “In the last six months, we have seen a positive shift in consumer’s attitudes with more people feeling empowered to speak out if they are not happy6. We would like to see this trend continue, as ultimately, consumer demand for proper hygiene standards will result in improvements”, he added.

A 2005 survey by the Food Standards Agency into standards of hygiene in UK food premises identified catering establishments as having the largest proportion of premises considered high risk to public health than other types of food premises. The same survey revealed that in Northern Ireland 6.2% of food premises presented a high risk to public health.

Mr Higgins, continued, “The entire catering industry has a responsibility to meet the highest possible food safety and hygiene standards. Consumers can play a part in raising and maintaining these standards by speaking out if they are not satisfied with what they see, or experience, whether that is raw foods being displayed next to ready-to-eat foods, improper temperature control such as hot food not being served hot, or visibly dirty premises”.

This phase of the ‘Speak Out’ campaign will be launched on 24th March for a two week burst on radio, and outdoor consisting of posters at bus-stops and other appropriate central locations, across the island of Ireland.

- Ends -

For further information please contact

SMARTS       safefood
Leanne McCarroll/Kathy Doyle  or   Fiona Gilligan
Tel: 028 9039 5500     Tel: 03531 4480600

References

; safetrak, Consumer Research, Amarach Consulting, February 2004
 Amarach/Campbell Catering Food Future Survey, 2007
 Aramark/Campbell Catering from Revolution to Evolution – The Eating Out Market             
   in Ireland, 2007
 safetrak Consumer Research, Amarach Consulting 2007
6 safetrak Consumer Research, IMS Millward Brown, January 2008
 Food Standards Agency Survey of Hygiene Standards in Food Premises, 2005