These messages could also be a part of a broader
effort to educate consumers on nutrition, health and
wellness, and guidance for specific dietary needs.
They can also be messages meant to alert a consumer about a product issue or to further explain why
the product may not be available for sale.
When crafting messages for the consumer, it is
important to know your audience. Depending on
the message and what you are trying to communicate, you must stay simple and clear. If the message
is practical and provides simple examples, it can
be more powerful than one that is more complicated. Complex messaging tends to be more easily
overlooked and dismissed. The message should also
provide some type of empowerment
to the consumer so that they can
take personal action to reduce risk to
themselves and their families.
One of my favorite resources for
safe food handling is the Partnership for Food Safety Education. This group touts four core
practices for safe food handling:
Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill.
These core practices teach consumers about the importance
of cleaning and sanitizing surfaces during food preparation,
separating raw from ready-to-eat products to prevent
all raw product (specifically
meat, poultry, pork and fish) to the correct internal temperature and keeping cold foods refrigerated. This organization uses many tools to assist
the industry in communicating these messages to
the consumer. Signage, verbiage for social media
and graphics that are easy to identify are just a few
There are many reasons to communicate messaging to consumers around food safety at the point of
purchase. Some of these reasons could include best practices for safe handling of product, a recent update
on a health concern or information about recalled products.
Managing the Message:
Food Safety at the Point of Sale
FOOD SAFETY MAGAZINE
Product recalls are a current issue that is just a part of life. While it is
important for products to be removed from retail shelves if there is an
issue, it is also important to be able to do so effectively without instill-
ing fear into the consumer. In these situations, it is imperative that the
messages to the consumer are simple and clear and provide sufficient
information so that the consumer is properly educated on the situation.
Consider how your opening line or heading/title might read so that
it draws consumers to actually read the message. Also consider using
keywords or phrases that are familiar and may also be what consumers
are hearing through media. If there is a specific company involved, it is
a good idea to use its name and be very clear on the products affected
by the message. Photos of the products are always a great addition as
they can provide a more practical message and one that is easy for the
consumer to understand. Don’t forget details like lot codes or dates that
may have purchased or have at home.
Another best practice is to use your internal
resources to vet the messages prior to posting at
the point of sale. Public affairs, risk management,
Crafting consumer messages is not as straightforward as you may
think. Simple, clear and informative messages can not only assist
consumers in making the right decisions but can also guide them to
a more food-safe product experience as well as a deeper understand-
ing and trust that you are offering safe products to them and their