Human tooth and chicken’s head found in food in Ireland

Increase in complaints to Food Safety Authority about unfit food


A chicken’s head found in frozen chicken wings, a human tooth in a Chinese takeaway and a dirty finger nail in baby food. They were just some of the complaints received by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s advice line last year.

There were 2,846 complaints about food, and food premises – an increase of 12.5 per cent on 2012. The authority said cases where food was contaminated with foreign objects such as plastic, metal and glass fragments were often cited.

Complaints included incidents where meat was found in chocolate yoghurt, a screw was found in a pasta dish and glass was reported in a ready meal. A consumer also complained about the discovery of live insects in a packet of dates.

The authority said the increased activity on its advice line reflected a growing awareness among consumers of the need to report poor hygiene practices and an increase in demand among food businesses for information.

The advice line dealt with 13,269 queries and complaints last year, 10,429 of which involved requests for advice across a range of food-related areas such as food labelling, legislation and starting up a new food business.

Some 1,190 complaints about food involved unfit food. 566 complaints were about suspected food poisoning while 587complaints involved hygiene standards.

While the horse meat scandal was one of the biggest food stories of the year, the advice line only received 33 calls about the incident. In contrast, it received 267 queries about the Hepatitis A outbreak associated with imported frozen berries.

The authority’s information manager Edel Smyth said the increase in calls was a positive development.

“On one hand, more food businesses are contacting us seeking to raise their food safety standards while, on the other, consumers are increasingly vigilant and aware of the need to report bad practice or experiences they’ve had where food safety has been compromised,” she said.

“We continue to encourage anyone who has had a bad experience in relation to poor hygiene or food safety standards to report the matter to us so that the issue can be investigated directly.”

The advice line operates from 9am to 5pm on weekdays and can be reached on lo-call 1890 336677.