Fingernail and tooth found in food

A dirty fingernail in baby food, a human tooth in a Chinese takeaway and a chicken’s head in frozen chicken wings.

These are some of the complaints made last year to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

Among the 2,846 complaints received was a screw in a pasta dish, meat inside chocolate yoghurt, glass in a ready meal and live insects in a packet of dates.

The number of complaints is up 12.5% on 2012, while the number of advice requests, at 10,429, is up 9%.

Just 33 calls to the FSAI’s advice line last year related to the horsemeat scandal.

However, 267 queries were received in relation to the Hepatitis A outbreak associated with imported frozen berries.

Consumer complaints ranged from reports of food that was unfit to eat to inaccurate labelling.

There were 1,190 complaints about unfit food; 566 about suspect food poisoning; 587 about hygiene standards and 192 about incorrect information on food labelling.

There were also 311 ‘other’ complaints.

The FSAI said consumers were becoming more aware of the need to report poor hygiene practice.

There was also an increase in demand among food businesses for information about labelling requirements and resources for food business start-ups.

FSAI information manager, Edel Smyth, said food businesses must ensure they provide food that does not compromise the health of anyone who eats it.

All complaints received by the FSAI last year were followed up and investigated by environmental health officers.

“Consumers are entitled to the highest standard of food safety and hygiene in every food establishment and across every food product they purchase,” said Ms Smyth.

“Our advice line acts as an important resource tool for the food industry where our experts are available to assist food business owners and managers reach their food safety legal requirements.”

Similar to the last few years, about 60% of contacts made with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s advice line were by telephone, with 30% by email.

The remainder were made by people who visited the FSAI’s offices, attended exhibitions or accessed the FSAI’s Facebook and Twitter Pages.

The authority also dealt with a number of staff requests.

Customer gripes

More examples of consumer complaints:

- A hair in a burger.
- A maggot in a chip.
- A large fly in a packet of lettuce and beetroot (washed and ready-to-eat packet).
- A metal bolt inside a tin of grapefruit segments.
- A piece of wire in a takeaway meal.
- A piece of glass in a ready meal.
- A needle in a salad.

Here are some of the complaints about food labelling:

- No best-before date.
- The font size was too small.
- Weight of the food not listed.
- Could not understand the nutrition labelling.
- Allergen labelling not clear enough.

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