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‘Bloody plaster’ in curry and maggot-infested chicken among 2022 food safety complaints

The FSAI Advice Line received a total of 7,363 queries and complaints in 2022.

Stock image. Photo: Getty Images/Science Photo Libra© Getty Images/Science Photo Libra

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

A “dirty and bloody plaster” inside a curry, a fake nail in garlic cheese chips, and live maggots inside fried chicken were among the complaints submitted to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) last year.

The FSAI Advice Line received a total of 7,363 queries and complaints in 2022.

The FSAI announced the details of last years’ complaints in a statement on Monday, where it stated that the advice line handled 4,058 complaints from consumers, with 31pc of complaints concerning unfit food while 28pc related to poor hygiene standards.

The 2022 complaints saw an 18.9pc increase compared with 2021 figures, continuing an overall upwards trend over the past decade.

A frequently reported complaint last year involved the contamination of food by a foreign body.

Commonly reported objects found in food included pieces of glass; wood; plastic; paper; metal; hairs; small stones; medicine tablets; and insects.

Some more gruesome cases saw a live snail in a pack of spinach; a dirty and possibly bloody plaster in a curry; live maggots in fried chicken; part of a disposable glove in a rocky road biscuit; a false nail in garlic cheese chips; a piece of glass in coffee beans; and metal shavings in chicken wings.

Complaints regarding unfit food included meats not properly cooked; mould found on food products; food for sale past their use-by date; and food served cold instead of hot.

A host of poor hygiene issues were also reported, such as fish deliveries that were left outside in the sun; excessive flies and overall dirty food business premises; visible rodent droppings; bathrooms lacking soap; and staff not washing hands.

Other consumer complaints ranged from reports of suspected food poisoning to a failure to display allergen information.

In total, 1,258 complaints concerned unfit food, followed by hygiene standards (1,124) and suspected food poisoning (1,122).

The FSAI’s Advice Line dealt with 150 complaints about incorrect labelling, while allergen information queries stood at 127 and 63 cases called out unregistered food businesses.

All complaints received by the FSAI in 2022 were followed up and investigated by food inspectors throughout the country, the statutory body said.

Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive of the FSAI said that the reporting of food safety issues is an important duty and helps food inspectors to identify “possible threats to public health”.

“We commend members of the public, as well as the food industry for reporting food safety issues,” she said.

“Food businesses have a legal obligation to provide safe food and people noticing and contacting us is of great benefit to the Environmental Health Officers, veterinary and agricultural inspectors, sea-fisheries inspection officers and the laboratories.

“While they carry out routine inspections throughout the country and analyse food samples, complaints assist in targeting an issue and ensure possible threats to public health are dealt with quickly.

“The increase in complaints is a positive indication of people’s heightened awareness of their right to expect high standards of hygiene and food safety in relation to food.

“We encourage anyone who encounters poor hygiene or food safety standards in a food business to report the matter to the FSAI, so that it can be investigated by the relevant food safety inspectorate,” Dr Byrne added.

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