Food contaminated with dead insects among advice line calls

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

One alleged call was regarding a worm in a chicken nugget. Photo: Istock/bazilfoto
One alleged call was regarding a worm in a chicken nugget. Photo: Istock/bazilfoto

Related tags: Food safety, Food

An animal tooth in jam; a beetle in a burger bun; a worm in a chicken nugget and a snail in pick ‘n’ mix sweets were some of the contaminants reported to the Irish food safety agency last year.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s (FSAI) Advice Line received 2,739 complaints by consumers relating to food, food premises and food labelling.

The figure was largely unchanged on 2014 (when 2,738 where received​).

Last year, tainted food included 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.

Mixed subjects of complaints

Complaints about poor hygiene standards increased 14% while those on incorrect information on food labelling were up 10%.

Complaints about unfit food were down 12% and reduced 4% on the subject of food poisoning.

Alleged contamination of food with foreign objects also included a metal screw in a cake and a sharp piece of glass in frozen peas in addition to those previously listed.

Other complaints referred to undercooked food being served; out-of-date food being sold in retail outlets; mouldy bread being used to make sandwiches and strange tastes from food.

Consumers are more vigilant

Edel Smyth, information manager at FSAI, said consumers have become more conscious about the food they eat in recent years and are increasingly vigilant about food safety issues.

“There is now a low level of tolerance around poor hygiene standards and food that is unfit to eat in particular.

“This is a welcome development and is reflected in the level of complaints we receive directly from consumers. We continue to encourage anyone who has had a bad food safety experience to report the matter to the FSAI so that the issue can be dealt with.”

Of the 11,832 requests received by the advice line during 2015, 49% were from food businesses seeking advice and information. 

Key areas included information about labelling requirements; allergens and additives; resources for start-ups; information on training, standards and legislation and requests for FSAI publications.

Smyth said the advice line is a resource for the food industry where experts can assist food business owners and managers to understand their legal requirements.

“We urge food businesses to take full advantage of the information and support provided to ensure they reach their food safety legal requirements.”​ 

Approximately 49% of requests were received by telephone, while 40% came electronically (i.e. by email/website). 

The remainder (11%) included attendance at events and the FSAI’s facebook and Twitter pages.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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