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Saturday 16 December 2017

A human nail, a cigarette butt and a live insect... just some of the foreign objects found in food by horrified customers

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland received 3,202 complaints in 2016 (stock image)
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland received 3,202 complaints in 2016 (stock image)
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A human nail in a takeaway meal, a cigarette butt in a bag of chips and a live insect were among the foreign objects discovered by horrified customes who went onto make a complaint to food safety officials, a new report has revealed.

More than 3,200 complaints from consumers were made to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) last year.

Food poisoning accounted for almost half of all complaints made to the FSAI, while hygiene standards was the second most popular reason for complaints.

Among the incidents lodged with the FSAI on their advice line was:

• 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

• A cigarette butt in a bag of chips

• Rats spotted on the premises

• A deli staff member sneezing on their hands and preparing sandwiches without washing

Edel Smyth, information manager with the FSAI, said the increase of 17pc in complaints shows Ireland is moving closer to a “zero tolerance” environment for 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,” she said.  

“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,” she added.

Other categories of complaints included the mislabeling of food resulted in 221 complaints, while 60 complaints were made about non-display of allergens.

More than 10,000 inquiries were also made to the FSAI for advice on a range of issues.

The FSAI Advice Line, which operates from 9am to 5pm weekdays, is manned by trained advisors and food scientists and can be reached at or through the ‘make a complaint’ section of the FSAI website.

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