Atlanta – A new survey, conducted for National Food Safety Education Month (September), found that cleanliness was an important factor for consumers in considering whether to shop at a particular grocery store.

The national survey, which queried 997 adults, was conducted in August by Princeton, N.J.-based Opinion Research Corp. International on behalf of locally based Kimberly-Clark Professional. According to the survey, the consumers’ biggest turn-offs were dirty-looking grocery stores and food handlers who don't wash their hands before preparing food.

In fact, 81% of consumers queried said their purchasing decisions are influenced by the cleanliness of the grocery store. When asked what they would be most likely to do if they visited a grocery store that appeared to be dirty or unsanitary, 64% of survey respondents said they would leave the store immediately without purchasing anything.

In addition, 34% of respondents said they would not patronize a store or food service establishment in the future, if they saw a food handler touch their food without first washing their hands.