Dead maggots, a razor blade and a cigarette in list of contaminated food
The number of queries and complaints increased by 8% to 14,348, compared with the previous year.
In total 2,738 related to complaints by consumers about food and premises, while 11,604 included requests for advice from food businesses.
FSAI said the increased activity reflects a demand among food businesses for information about labelling requirements and resources for food business start-ups.
There was also a growing awareness among consumers in reporting poor hygiene practice, it added.
Foreign objects found
Contamination of food with foreign objects was frequently reported by consumers.
These included allegations of food contaminated with dead maggots and glass, as well as other foreign objects.
For example, a razor blade found in minced meat; a cigarette in a fruit brack; a fly in a jar of marmalade; an insect in an apple tart; the tip of an knife in spare ribs; wire in takeaway food and a metal bolt in a tin of grapefruit.
Consumer complaints ranged from food unfit to eat, to inaccurate labelling.
Calls seeking advice (11,604) showed a dramatic increase in requests for information on food labelling (up 100% on 2013), coinciding with introduction of the Food Information to Consumers (FIC) law requiring the labelling of specific allergens on all loose food.
More vigilant consumers
Edel Smyth, information manager at the FSAI, said consumers have become more vigilant and are now more likely to report poor hygiene or food safety standards.
“Poor standards are often the result of inadequate staff training and a failure to follow best practices to safeguard customers’ health. This is inexcusable given the substantial information and resources available to assist food businesses.”
Of the 14,348 requests to the advice line, 50% were received by telephone and 30% by email.
The remainder resulted from the FSAI’s website walk-ins, attendance at exhibitions, staff requests and through the Facebook and Twitter pages.