Over 3,414 consumer complaints were received by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s (FSAI) Advice Line in 2021, with 36% of complaints relating to unfit food and 24% to poor hygiene standards.
Overall, the 2021 complaints saw a 23% increase compared with 2020.
A large portion of reports were related foreign body contamination of food. Objects found in food included: strands of hair; insects; stones; pieces of plastic; metal; and glass. Examples include glass found in porridge and sweet potato fries; hair found in numerous takeaway foods; metal found in baked beans; a maggot found in soup; and a metal screw in spareribs.
Complaints regarding unfit food cited a can of orange juice filled with beans; a piece of wood found in a container of soup; an exploding bottle of fruit juice; a spider in a takeaway cocktail; and a disposable glove in a pie.
That year saw a considerable decrease in complaints on the previous year due to COVID-19, and the 2021 numbers are more in line with the pre-COVID-19 figures of 3,460 in 2019.
All complaints received by the FSAI in 2021 were followed up and investigated by food inspectors throughout the country.
Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI commented: “We welcome consumers and food businesses contacting us via our Advice Line. Consumers have a right to safe food. Having people spotting and reporting inappropriate and unsafe food and practices greatly aids our work with the food inspectors and provides us with information that we can act upon. Consumers are becoming more aware and having a greater understanding of what they should expect from food businesses in Ireland. There has been a considerable increase in complaints regarding unfit food and poor hygiene standards and we thank the public for their increased vigilance. While the figures may be higher in 2021 than 2020, this can partly be contributed to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions.”
“With the removal of COVID-19 restrictions, food businesses have reopened their doors and welcomed back customers and staff. Food business owners and managers should continue to use our website and Advice Line for the most recent updates regarding food safety best practices,” said Dr Byrne.
The FSAI Advice Line is open during usual working hours from 10am to 4pm weekdays, manned by food scientists and trained advisors and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the online complaint form ‘make it better’ on the FSAI website. The FSAI Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages are also resources with up-to-the-minute information in relation food safety: www.facebook.com/FSAI and @FSAIinfo.