Hundreds of horrified diners were served up unwanted extras last year, reporting finds of everything from maggots to teeth in meals bought from food outlets.
Among the 3,400 complaints received by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) were reports of chewing gum turning up in sandwich wraps, in scrambled egg from a breakfast buffet and in takeaway rice; maggots in mashed potato, hair in a sandwich; and a tooth in a takeaway dish.
Pre-packaged food also had some surprise ingredients including rodent droppings in a bag of crisps, larvae in a jar of beetroot, glass in a smoothie, and a wasp in a packet of rashers.
Unlisted allergens or confusing information about allergens also left a bad taste in the mouths of 103 people — a 42% increase on 2016.
Filthy habits among food preparation staff also led to complaints. They included incidents of staff wiping their nose while working with food and picking up dropped food from the floor and then using it in a sandwich. Other complainants reported smelling sewerage in food premises and seeing rats, mice and flies.
In total there were 1,233 complaints about unfit food, 896 about hygiene standards, 808 about suspected food poisoning, 183 about incorrect information on labels, 103 about the non-display of allergen information and 102 miscellaneous matters — in total a 6% increase on the 2016 figure.
Pamela Byrne, chief executive of the FSAI, said the growing number of complaints showed consumers were adopting a zero-tolerance approach to poor food safety and hygiene standards and she welcomed the trend.
“Having people spotting and reporting inappropriate and unsafe food and practices greatly aids our work and provides us with information that we can act upon,” she said. She said all the complaints received were followed up and investigated by food inspectors.
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