Food safety is a right not a privilege

Research reveals over 50% of the population are reluctant to speak out if unhappy with food hygiene standards

29 October, 2007. Earlier today, safefood launched a new public awareness campaign designed to educate consumers about their rights with regard to food hygiene standards outside the home, and empower them to speak out if they are not satisfied. The campaign entitled ‘Speak Out’ was launched following new research that reveals consumers are reluctant to speak out if unhappy with the food hygiene standards experienced, when eating out¹. 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 on the island of Ireland. 

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Mr Martin Higgins, Chief Executive, safefood , said “Our research revealed that 53% of people feel reluctant to speak out if they are unhappy with food hygiene standards². Whether it’s grabbing a lunchtime sandwich, having a takeaway or visiting a restaurant, eating out has become increasingly part of our daily lives – almost a third of people in Northern Ireland eat out at least once a week. As consumers, we can play our part too in ensuring the highest standards of food hygiene are met and this campaign will focus on educating and enabling consumers to trust their own instincts and make informed choices.”

The research conducted by safefood also revealed that 62% of consumers will not return to the food establishment if they experience poor food hygiene standards, and will most certainly tell others of their bad experience. 

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Eddie Lynch from the Consumer Council said: “Consumers should always speak out if they are unhappy with any service they receive, particularly when eating out. The Consumer Council continues to actively help people to know their rights and have the confidence and skills to use them effectively. Businesses can benefit from confident and informed consumers and this safefood campaign should encourage people to speak out and help to raise standards as well. We look forward to continuing to work with safefood on this important initiative.”

A 2005 survey by the Food Standards Agency into standards of hygiene in UK food premises identified catering establishments as having a larger 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, continues, “While standards are generally high in the food industry, there are concerns that catering establishments are more likely to present a high risk to public health. Consumers can play their part by speaking out and we hope our campaign will be of benefit to both consumers and the catering industry through even higher standards of excellence.”

The ‘Speak Out’ campaign will comprise three phases of activity, with the first phase being launched on 29th October for a two week burst on radio, with an outdoor campaign consisting of 6-sheets posted at bus-stops and other appropriate central locations, scheduled for November across the island of Ireland.

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For further information please contact

Leanne McCarroll/ Sarah Young   
Tel: 028 90395500     

Fiona Gilligan
Tel: +33531 4480060


  • ¹Safetrak Consumer Research, Amárach Consulting 2007
  • ²Safetrak Consumer Research, Amárach Consulting 2007
  • ³30% of respondents ate a meal outside the home at least once a week. Food Standards Agency, Consumer Attitudes to Food Standards, February 2007
  • Safetrak Consumer Research, Amárach Consulting 2007
  • Food Standards Agency Survey of Hygiene Standards in Food premises 2005