Thursday 12 December 2019

Tooth, glass and maggots among 'foreign objects' found in food reported to watchdog

The base salary for a chef is €31,200 /yr (Stock)
The base salary for a chef is €31,200 /yr (Stock)
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

A tooth, a strand of hair, a wasp and maggots were just some of the items found in food products last year, according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

The FSAI released a report today, detailing that their advice line handled over 3,400 customer complaints last year, an average of 10 complaints a day.

This was an increase of 6pc compared to 2016.

The FSAI states that the categories of complaints were as follows:

·       1,233 complaints on unfit food

·       896 complaints on hygiene standards

·       808 complaints on suspect food poisoning

·       183 complaints on incorrect information on food labelling

·       103 complaints on non-display of allergen information

·       102 other

The FSAI revealed that consumers frequently complain about their food being contaminated with foreign objects.

"Examples of complaints received included chewing gum being reported several times as being present in a number foods including sandwich wraps; scrambled egg from a breakfast buffet; and in takeaway rice," the report reads.

"Other foreign objects found in foods were a long black hair in a sandwich; rodent droppings in a bag of crisps; a tooth in a takeaway dish; larvae in jar of beetroot; a piece of glass in a smoothie; maggots in mashed potato; and a wasp in a packet of rashers."


Rats, mice and flies on food premises were all reported to the FSAI.

The reportedly poor personal hygiene habits of staff were also flagged, such as chefs "wiping their noses while preparing sandwiches" and others "picking up and using food that had been dropped on the floor".

The non-display of allergen information accounted for 42pc of complaints last year, while objections against incorrect information on food related to 17pc.

FSAI inspectors followed up and looked into all of the complaints they received last year.

They said their advice line also offers advice and information for people in the industry and they received 9,576 queries in 2017, the most commonly asked question related to legislation for food labelling and information for new businesses.

Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI commented: "Having people spotting and reporting inappropriate and unsafe food and practices greatly aids our work and provides us with information that we can act upon. 

"The year on year increase in our Advice Line statistics reflect a continued trend where consumers are showing they have zero-tolerance when it comes to poor food safety and hygiene standards in food products and in food premises. 

"In 2017, we undertook a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the importance and legal requirement for allergen information to be displayed and communicated accurately to consumers in food service establishments.

"We are seeing consumers becoming more aware and having a greater understanding of what they should expect from food establishments in Ireland.”

  • The FSAI Advice Line runs from 9am until 5pm weekdays and is operated 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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