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Welcome to Fancy Food & Culinary Products' blog, your place to read reviews of the great fancy and gourmet products we find in the marketplace.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tradeshow Health Safety

With all of the recent news from the Center for Disease Control regarding the Swine Flu (H1N1), it's important to remember some basic common sense rules for protecting our health as we head into a busy tradeshow season.

The CDC recommends taking the following precautions for staying healthy and preventing sickness of any kind (not just the super-publicized H1N1). These tips are especially important in situations such as trade shows,when shaking hands and speaking in close proximity with a lot of people is the norm:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Avi Frier, a marketing professional from Presto Tradeshow who works tradeshows for a living, offers some more show-specific tips for exhibitors:
  • Bins of promotional items: Visitors touch multiple objects when reaching into a bin. Instead, spread items on a table and clean the table regularly; or hand items to attendees one at a time.
  • Candy bowls: Even more dangerous than bins, since candy goes right into the mouth. If you MUST distribute candy, it should be individually wrapped and handled like promotional items. Let food service professionals handle other food.
  • Shaking hands: Don’t drop your handshake! Psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow, speaking on FOX news, said he’s concerned about the negative effects of eliminating the handshake. "We need human touch and genuine communication more than ever right now," Ablow said. So shake hands—but wash up afterward before touching your face or eating.
  • Hands-on demos & experiential activities: Touch-screen gadgets, video games, golf clubs, pool cues, etc. must now be cleaned after each use. Some exhibitors have eliminated them altogether.
Now, eliminating food samples at your booth altogether in the gourmet industry probably isn't a good idea, but as with any show, be vigilant with your food handlers. Keep disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer handy in your booth and make sure you are taking care of yourself. Tradeshows can be really hard on the body (especially if you're filling your evenings with networking events or dinners with clients) and can make for some very long days. It may be a good idea to up the ante with vitamin C or by using a product like Echinacea or Airborne to boost your immune system. Make sure you get a good night's rest (which, I know, can be difficult if you're out of town, staying in an unfamiliar bed in a hotel), and are eating well (which can also be difficult at a food show -- I never stop for lunch, for example, but sustain myself on not-necessarily-nutritious samples throughout the day. Dips, chocolate and coffee do not make a healthful lunch!).

What are some of your staying-healthy strategies when you attend or exhibit at trade shows? We'd love to hear them!