Glass, false nails, live insects and a dirty plaster were all found in food served in Ireland last year
Glass, false nails, live insects and a dirty plaster were among some of the foreign objects found in food here last year, according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
Foreign-body contamination was a frequent complaint to the food safety watchdog’s advice line, which dealt with 7,363 queries and complaints in 2022.
Close to a third (31pc) of 4,058 complaints from consumers related to unfit food while more than a quarter (28pc) of complaints were over poor hygiene standards.
Among the objects commonly found in food were pieces of glass, wood, plastic, paper, metal, hairs, small stones, medicine tablets and insects.
A live snail was also found in a pack of spinach while live maggots were found in fried chicken. Part of a disposable glove was found in a Rocky Road biscuit and a dirty and possibly bloody plaster was found in a curry.
Consumers also reported finding a false nail in garlic cheese chips, a piece of glass in coffee beans and metal shavings in chicken wings.
Other complaints including meats not being completely cooked, mould on food products, food on sale past its sell-by date and food served cold instead of hot.
Poor hygiene standards were the second most common complaint, including reports of fish deliveries left outside in the sun, excessive flies and overall dirty food business premises, rodent droppings, bathrooms lacking soap and staff not washing hands and other poor staff hygiene habits.
Other complaints include suspected food poisoning and a failure to display allergen information.
Overall, there were 1,258 complaints of unfit food, 1,124 complaints over hygiene standards, 1,122 reports of suspected food poisoning, 150 complaints related to labelling, 127 complaints over allergen information, 63 complaints related to unregistered food businesses and 214 other complaints.
There was an 18.9pc increase in complaints to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in 2022 over the previous year as part of an upwards trend over the past decade.
FSAI chief executive Pamela Byrne said the reporting of food safety issues by the public was vital.
“We commend members of the public, as well as the food industry for reporting food safety issues,” Dr Byrne said. “Food businesses have a legal obligation to provide safe food and people noticing and contacting us is of great benefit to the environmental health officers, veterinary and agricultural inspectors, sea-fisheries inspection officers and the laboratories.”
“While they carry out routine inspections throughout the country and analyse food samples, complaints assist in targeting an issue and ensure possible threats to public health are dealt with quickly. The increase in complaints is a positive indication of people’s heightened awareness of their right to expect high standards of hygiene and food safety in relation to food.”
She added that the FSAI encouraged anyone who encounters poor food safety standards or poor hygiene in a food business to report it to the authority.
The FSAI advice line is open from 10am until 4pm from Monday to Friday.