Sharp glass in soup and live insects in rice among 2,772 food complaints in Ireland last year
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has said its Advice Line handled 2,772 consumer complaints in 2020.
The FSAI said 34% of the complaints related to unfit food while a further 30% were about poor hygiene standards.
The number of complaints received in 2020 did decrease from 3,460 in 2019, although the FSAI largely attributed this to the impact of Covid-19.
Reports of contamination of food with foreign objects was frequent last year with allegations of food containing insects, plastics and other items.
Examples of complaints received included hair being present in a number of foods, sharp glass in soup and fried noodles, live insects crawling through rice and snails in a packet of spinach and a bag of frozen mixed fruits. Small pieces of stone, moths and rodent droppings in food were also reported.
The top complaints received by the FSAI were as follows:
- 937 complaints on unfit food
- 823 complaints on hygiene standards
- 429 complaints on suspect food poisoning
- 100 complaints on incorrect information on food labelling
- 78 complaints on non-display of allergen information
- 34 complaints on advertising
- 371 ‘other’ (i.e. unregistered food businesses, Covid-19 restrictions)
The complaints about poor hygiene standards included live mice and evidence of rodent activity in a café, staff’s lack of personal hygiene, handling cash and then proceeded to start handling food without the washing of hands, the smell of sewage in food premises and no hot water for hand washing.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, our Advice Line has been a valuable resource for consumers who continued to contact us with complaints about food safety and hygiene in food businesses even with the level 5 restrictions which resulted in the temporary closures of many food businesses," Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI said.
"The consistently high number of complaints shows us that consumers are continuing to grow increasingly aware of their right to safe food, and also the food safety and hygiene standards which should be in place across all food businesses.
"We are urging food businesses to take advantage of the resources available on our website to ensure they are meeting their legal requirements.”