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Food safety as a marketing tool

The UK is going to enjoy a big year in 2012. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games will be landmarks for the nation, attracting global attention, and plenty of additional tourism.

Why is this relevant to food service professionals? Well, the UK’s Food Standards Agency will be launching a Food Safety Squad ( to embark on special inspections of food outlets during the London Olympics.

Outlets not meeting standards will be given training to ensure they are aware of, and follow, food hygiene regulations; and those that put public health at risk will face enforcement action.

For a food service business, the message is not merely UK or Olympics-related, however. In challenging economic conditions many outlets are looking at ways to attract more, new customers and improve business. Special offers, advertising and numerous other initiatives are being used to market food service businesses, and encourage people to eat out.

In the rush to serve more customers, it is vital that hygiene and food safety aren’t forgotten though. What really sells a food service business is its reputation for high-quality food.

Marketing initiatives may attract some new visitors: but it is their desire to visit again, along with the word of mouth recommendations that these new visitors represent, that will really boost a food service business.

If food safety and hygiene isn’t central to the business during this period though, these long-term benefits won’t materialise. In fact, the word of mouth factor will start to present a challenge, rather than a benefit: a diner telling friends never to go to your restaurant, or writing a bad online review after a dissatisfactory first visit.

The events taking place in the UK in 2012 will certainly encourage a number of businesses to try to capitalise, running promotions and extending their food catering services to make the most of the opportunity.

As with any food service business looking to appeal to new customers, they would be wise to remember the importance of food safety. Without it, the word of mouth factor could translate first-time visits into negative publicity for a food outlet.