Farm Ireland

Friday 20 April 2018

Insects, cigarette butts and human nails in food among most horrific complaints to Food Safety Authority

45% Increase in Consumer Complaints Reported Relating to Suspected Food Poisoning
45% Increase in Consumer Complaints Reported Relating to Suspected Food Poisoning
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A live insect, human hair and nails and a cigarette butt were some of the complaints received by the Food Safety Authority last year, as it also reported a 45% increase in food poisoning complaints.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s (FSAI) Advice Line received 3,202 complaints by consumers relating to food, food premises and food labelling in 2016.

The figure represents a total increase of 17% on 2015 (when 2,739 were received), with the number of complaints about food poisoning were up 45%.  

Poor hygiene standards were the second highest reported, with an increase of 34%, as compared with 2015.

Complaints about incorrect information on food labelling were up 15%.

The number of complaints about unfit food was up 7%, when compared with 2015.

Contamination of food with foreign objects was frequently reported by consumers. 

In 2016, these reports included allegations of food contaminated with insects and glass, as well as other foreign objects. 

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Some of the complaints the FSAI received:

  • a live insect found in a packaged dessert;
  • a long black hair in garlic sauce;
  • a human nail in a takeaway meal;
  • glass in a dessert;
  • plastic rope in a takeaway meal; and,
  • a cigarette butt in a bag of chips. 

Other complaints regarding poor hygiene standards:

  • to dirty customer toilets;
  • rats seen on the premises;
  • dirty tables and floors:
  • and one case of a staff member at a deli sneezing into their hands and then preparing sandwiches without washing their hands. 

Consumer complaints ranged from reports of food unfit to eat, to non-display of allergen information:

  • 1,126 complaints on unfit food;
  • 864 complaints on hygiene standards;
  • 741 complaints on suspect food poisoning;
  • 221 complaints on incorrect information on food labelling;
  • 60 complaints on non-display of allergen information.

Complaints received by the FSAI were followed up and investigated by enforcement officers throughout the country.

The FSAI’s Advice Line also offers advice and information and during 2016, 10,497 queries were received from a wide range of requesters, including consumers; people working in the food service sector; manufacturers; retailers; researchers and consultants.

The most popular queries were regarding legislation on food labelling requirements; allergens and additives, as well as requests for FSAI publications.  

Edel Smyth, Information Manager, FSAI said the statistics from our Advice Line service continue to show an upward trend with consumers expressing much more concern and being more conscious about the food they consume and are being increasingly vigilant about food safety issues.

"There is a culture developing amongst consumers, which indicates zero tolerance towards poor hygiene standards and, in particular, food that is unfit to eat.  As consumers in Ireland become more vocal about the standards they expect from food establishments, we are seeing a welcomed increase 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," she said.

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