Consumers..., if in doubt, speak out - ROI 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 the National Consumer Agency and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland, 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 43% of them 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 consumers 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.

Mr Higgins continued, “There are concerns over the increase in Enforcement Orders* served in 2007, which were up 54% on 2006. 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

Kate Slattery / Niamh Burdett or   Fiona Gilligan
WHPR       safefood
Tel: 01 6690030      Tel: 01 4480060
086 387 3803 (Kate) / 086 608 6764 (Niamh)

Editor’s Notes

*Enforcement Orders are served by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and consist of Improvement, Prohibition and Closure Orders.

A total of 37 closure orders were served on food premises in 2007, a 37% increase on 2006, these being served only when there was likely to be a grave and immediate danger to public health in the food premises.

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 Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) Enforcement Orders, 2007
 Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) Closure Orders, 2007