Increase in food safety complaints


Food contaminated with teeth, zips and washers were among thousands of complaints dealt with by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) last year.

According to its annual report for 2010, nearly 11,000 queries and complaints were handled by the FSAI advice line last year.

One in four calls related to consumers reporting issues concerning food and food establishments - an increase of over 7 per cent on the previous year.

The FSAI said contamination with foreign objects was frequently reported and specific incidents included a live beetle found in a bag of Caesar salad, a moth in a Madeira cake, a washer ring in a bowl of soup and a zip in a black pudding.

Needles, safety pins, stones and insects - both live and dead - were also reported to have been found in food.

Some 2,126 complaints ranged from reports of unfit food, low hygiene standards, inaccurate labelling information and suspected food poisoning. Of these 914 related to complaints about unfit food, 433 were about suspect food poisoning, 402 were about hygiene standards while the rest related to food labelling and incorrect advertising.

Some 196 complaints were described as "other".

Complaints about poor hygiene standards in food premises ranged from staff not wearing hairnets when handling food, lack of hot water or soap in bathroom facilities, to insects and rodents visible on the premises.

The FSAI said all complaints were followed up and investigated by environmental health officers.

Information manager Edel Conway said the increase in reports  showed people were more aware of their right to expect high standards of hygiene and food safety. “Consumers are becoming more vigilant; they expect and should get an adequate standard of food hygiene in every food establishment and across every food product they purchase," she said. There is no excuse for a food business to have poor standards across any area of its production processes."

The remainder of the 10,898 calls made to the FSAI’s advice line last year related to advice on food labelling; legal requirements for starting up a new food business; food safety training information.

The FSAI advice line, on lo-call 1890 33 66 77 operates from 9am to 5pm weekdays. People are also encouraged to email or contact the facebook page at