Worms, snails and animal teeth found in consumers' food
A snail in a bag of pick'n'mix sweets, a dead fly in paté and a small animal tooth in a pot of jam were among the unexpected and disgusting ingredients that left a bad taste in the mouths of consumers last year.
Others endured the less than pleasant dining experience of biting into a worm in a chicken nugget, a piece of cake which contained a metal screw and a slice of bread which was gluten-free but was fortified with a piece of blue glove.
The unappetising mix of unsavoury dishes were brought to the attention of the complaints advice line of the watchdog, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
Others were driven to complain after they found sharp piece of glass in frozen peas, an insect in rice, blonde hairs in pre-packed bread, a tooth in pre-packed lasagne, a worm and eggs in a pre-washed bag of salad, a live cockroach in a bag of crisps and a beetle in a burger bun. They were among 1,052 complaints of unfit food which failed to meet health standards received by the agency.
Overall, the number of complaints about disgusting food ingredients fell by 12pc but there was a rise in grievances with standards of hygiene, up 14pc.
Edel Smyth, information manager with the agency, said that "in recent years, consumers have become much more conscious about the food they consume and are increasingly vigilant about food safety issues.
"There is now a low level of tolerance around poor hygiene standards and food that is unfit to eat in particular. This is a welcome development and is reflected in the level of complaints we receive directly from consumers.
"We continue to encourage anyone who has had a bad food safety experience to report the matter to the FSAI so that the issue can be dealt with."
Overall, it received 2,739 complaints by consumers relating to food, food premises and food labelling, 643 on hygiene standards, 510 on suspect food poisoning, 192 on incorrect information on food labelling and 42 on the non-display of allergen information.
A spokeswoman said the rise in complaints about hygiene standards was linked to greater awareness by the public about the standards that are needed.
"It can involve the deli counter, the hot food counter, restaurant or take-away. They are unhappy with what they have seen. The customer may bring it to our attention because they wonder what is happening in areas that they can't see.
"Some of the poor standards may be due to lack of staff training. It is a legal obligation to have staff trained."
People are not going to tolerate staff preparing a sandwich and then handling money, she added. All of the complaints are passed on to environmental health officers who inspect premises.