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Survey: Dirty Grocery Stores and Restaurants Lose Business

ROSWELL, Ga. - Dirty-looking grocery stores and fast food restaurants were big turn-offs to consumers considering whether or not to patronize a particular establishment, according to a new national survey.

The survey, conducted for National Food Safety Education Month (September), found that 78 percent of grocery store shoppers and 82 percent of fast food restaurant patrons say their purchasing decisions are influenced by the cleanliness of the establishment. The survey of 1,046 adults was conducted in August by Opinion Research Corporation International on behalf of Kimberly-Clark Professional.

When asked what they would be most likely to do when visiting a grocery store that appeared to be dirty or unsanitary, slightly over half (52 percent) of survey respondents said they would leave the store immediately without purchasing anything. More than one-quarter of respondents (26 percent) said they would purchase items at that visit, but they would probably not shop at the store again.

In comparison, nearly three-fourths (74 percent) said they would leave the fast-food restaurant immediately without eating there or without purchasing food for take-out. Only eight percent said they would purchase food for take-out from a dirty-looking restaurant, and 12 percent said they would complain to a restaurant employee.

Grocery store and fast-food restaurant patrons spread the word about dirty conditions as well. In fact, a vast majority (90 percent) of those surveyed said they would tell friends and family not to patronize a grocery store or fast-food restaurant they found dirty.

"People often make an intuitive connection between the cleanliness of a grocery store or restaurant and the cleanliness or safety of the food found in that store or restaurant," says Linwood Herndon, grocery segment manager for Kimberly-Clark Professional. "Whether it's a dirty counter or table, a spill on the floor, or a food handler that doesn't pay attention to proper handwashing practices, the general public has an awareness of conditions that may affect the safety of their food."

Poor service was listed as the number one pet peeve by 29 percent of grocery shoppers surveyed. The next largest pet peeve was food handlers who don't wash their hands, identified by 18 percent of grocery shoppers surveyed. Twelve percent of survey respondents said dirty tables or counters in foodservice and food court areas was their biggest pet peeve, while eleven percent said spills or messes in the aisles or on shelves was their biggest pet peeve.
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