Edel Smyth, Information Manager of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s (FSAI) Advice Line received 3,202 complaints by consumers relating to food, food premises and food labelling in 2016.
The figure represents a total increase of 17% on 2015 (when 2,739 were received), with the number of complaints about food poisoning were up considerably at 45%.
Poor hygiene standards were the second highest reported, with an increase of 34%, as compared with 2015, while complaints about incorrect information on food labelling were up 15%.
The number of complaints about unfit food was up 7%, when compared with 2015.
Consumer complaints ranged from reports of food unfit to eat, to non-display of allergen information:
1,126 complaints on unfit food
864 complaints on hygiene standards
741 complaints on suspect food poisoning
221 complaints on incorrect information on food labelling
60 complaints on non-display of allergen information
Contamination of food with foreign objects was frequently reported by consumers.
In 2016, these reports included allegations of food contaminated with insects and glass, as well as other foreign objects.
For example, 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; and a cigarette butt in a bag of chips.
Other complaints regarding poor hygiene standards referred to dirty customer toilets; rats seen on the premises; dirty tables and floors: and one case of a staff member at a deli sneezing into their hands and then preparing sandwiches without washing their hands.
All complaints received by the FSAI were followed up and investigated by enforcement officers throughout the country.