safefood encourages consumers to Speak Out! (NI)

27 October, 2008. safefood is launching a public awareness campaign designed to encourage consumers to speak out if they are not satisfied with hygiene standards when eating out.

The campaign also provides restaurants with guidance on how to deal with issues raised by consumers.

Speaking earlier today, Mr. Martin Higgins, Chief Executive, safefood, said “Consumers are reluctant to speak out for a variety of reasons – our research reveals that a lack of confidence, concerns about how staff will react, and whether speaking out will even improve the situation are all real issues for consumers1. We would encourage consumers not just to think it, but to say it, as good businesses will welcome feedback from their customers and respond appropriately. ”

safefood research has revealed that 53% of consumers feel reluctant to speak out if they are unhappy about poor hygiene standards2. 62% of consumers will not return to the food establishment if they experience poor food hygiene standards, and will tell others of their bad experience2.

“With close to a third (30%) of consumers in Northern Ireland eating a meal outside of their home at least once a week3, they can play a significant role in helping to raise and maintain standards by speaking out. By knowing when customers have concerns about hygiene, restaurants can improve their business and if the issue is handled well customers will not only be likely to come back, but will also tell others of their good experience.”

Mr Higgins continued, “The entire catering industry has a responsibility to meet the highest possible food safety and hygiene standards and 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. By working together with restaurants and the wider catering industry, we can ensure those high standards continue to be met.”

The “Speak Out” campaign also provides restaurants with an information pack and promotional materials containing guidance, advice and information on how to deal effectively with issues raised by customers, how to respond and how to make an appropriate redress to them. Developed by safefood, in collaboration with Excellence Ireland Quality Association (EIQA), the pack includes a staff booklet, poster, stickers and a brochure.  

Endorsed by the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland and the National Consumer Agency, the “Speak Out” campaign will launch today, Monday 27th October, and coincides with a two week radio advertising campaign across the island of Ireland and outdoor advertising in Northern Ireland.


For further information please contact

Kathy Doyle/Sarah Eakin  or   Dermot Moriarty
Smarts      safefood
Tel: 00 44 (0)28 9039 5500   Tel: 00353 (0)1 4480600


  1. safefood Speak Out Focus Groups, IMS Millward Brown, September 2008
  2. Safetrak Consumer Research, Amárach Consulting 2007
  3. FSA Consumer Attitudes to Food Standards, February 2007