Product sampling is one of the most important drivers of increased product sales and can also be an important tool for onboarding new clients. It is something many in the weight loss business have come to depend on to introduce new products or to introduce new clients to products you know they will enjoy as part of their weight loss journey. Experience has taught us all that the worst way to sample is to send the product home with the client and hope that they try it. You want to offer the samples in your office where you can get their immediate reaction and, hopefully, another sale. In our current environment with the worries about COVID transmission, you might think it is impossible to give out samples in your office, however, you can still do this, but you should follow a few rules to ensure the safety and comfort of your staff and clients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control: Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.
Follow these steps to cautiously sample products during Covid-19:
- Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds for general food safety. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, like a packaging container that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging.
- We recommend wearing a face mask and nitrile or food preparation gloves while preparing the samples. Remind your employees that they must remove their gloves, wash their hands, and put on another pair of gloves if they touch their face or anything other than the food and items in the food preparation area.
- Before bringing any food into the food preparation area, all utensils and surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with food safe products. Remember, it only takes 1 tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water to sanitize food contact surfaces. Allow the solution time to do the job. Once applied, leave it to air dry. You can also sanitize using hot water (170 degrees), steam, or an approved cleaner/sanitizer for food surfaces. Do not mix cleaners as you may become ill from the fumes. Always read and follow the package directions.
- Once the area is prepped, open the products as you introduce them to the prep area and dispose of the packaging. Be aware of chances for cross-contamination. The outer packaging should never be introduced into the preparation area. Wash your hands and put on new gloves. You are now ready to handle the food.
- Put the samples into an individual container or have individual containers for service. For liquids, small paper cups can be filled as the customer is sampling. Keep the prepared beverage in a covered container such as a pitcher or carafe. Have your staff fill the cup for your clients to limit the number of people handling the container. Do not fill them ahead of time but only as requested. For items such as bars and chips, it is wise to invest in small condiment containers. Your clients trust them because they have been getting tarter sauce and ketchup in them for years.
- Cut the bars and put a small piece in each container or put a chip in each cup. When sealed, these can be kept in the refrigerator and sampled over the course of a day or two. Bring the samples to room temperature first so they will be more flavorful.
- Once all samples are prepared and packaged you should remove them to the appropriate storage area and then clean and sanitize the preparation area again.
- You should instruct your employees to demonstrate great care when handling the samples around your clients. Have them put on a glove or use hand sanitizer before reaching for the pitcher or the container.
- Keep the samples in an area where they will not be exposed to everyone.
- Place the pitcher or small containers into a larger container that can be kept closed such as a larger clear plastic bin. This may seem like a lot to do but it will reassure your clients you are working to protect their health in every way.
Taking a little time now to prepare samples for your office will help you to ensure the samples offered can be trusted and enjoyed. I am sure you will agree this is probably the best way to ensure everyone’s safety even when we are not in the time of a pandemic.