As restaurants, pubs and other food outlets prepare to reopen outdoors today (12 April), BSI (British Standards Institution) has released data showing a shift in consumer confidence around food safety and hygiene since COVID-19 which may impact the sector as it seeks to recover.

Consumer polling of 2,182 UK adults online, conducted by YouGov for BSI immediately after the Government’s Eat out To Help Out scheme, found that over half (53%) of consumers say they have become more conscious of food safety and hygiene at food outlets since the pandemic began.

Pubs, chain restaurants, and independent coffee shops and restaurants were the places that respondents were most concerned about.

Consumers indicated that this increased consciousness of food safety and hygiene would impact their choices going forward. More than three quarters (76%) of those surveyed said a lack of confidence in an outlet’s hygiene would stop them eating there, and a further 65% said they would avoid eating anywhere they were not confident in the food safety standards of the premises.

Encouragingly for food service businesses, respondents did welcome an independent assessment of premises by third party providers as something that would help re-establish their confidence.

A third (32%) of respondents who eat out or have food delivered said they would find a venue’s declaration of their COVID-safe measures reassuring. More than half (51%) reported that a venue’s certification by a third-party provider would increase their trust, and 54% said a BSI Kitemark™ would be an effective measure to help rebuild their confidence in hygiene and food safety standards.

Richard Werran, EMEA Director for Food and Retail Supply Chain at BSI said, “We’re all incredibly keen to see restaurants, pubs and coffee shops open their doors again, but our survey highlights the growing concerns that customers have when it comes to food safety and hygiene.

“We know that most organizations are taking great care in their preparations and will do their utmost to ensure staff and customers are safe. We’d encourage all food service organizations to lean heavily on best practice guidance and instil a robust food safety culture. In line with BSI’s Hygienic certification programme, I’d advise undertaking a deep clean, not just in food preparation areas but also cleaning and servicing all appliances and dispensers, looking for any pest ingress. This will demonstrate a commitment to putting the health of colleagues and customers first, providing consumers with much needed reassurance.”

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