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Live insects, glass... and a human tooth in a takeaway --- a busy year for the food safety hotline

There was a surge of complaints to the FSAI’s helpline last year. Surprisingly, only 33 related to the horse meat scandal.
Feb 26th 2014, 1:41 PM 12,350 22

THERE WAS A huge increase in calls to the food safety watchdog’s complaints line last year.

Of the 13,269 queries and complaints made to the FSAI’s Advice Line — 2,846 related specifically to complaints by consumers about food and food premises (a rise of 12.5 per cent on 2012).

Though the surge came in the wake of the horse meat contamination controversy (details of which first came to light in January 2013) only 33 of the calls made related directly to the scandal. By contrast, 267 queries were made in connection with the Hepatitis A outbreak associated with imported frozen berries.

The complaints covered a wide range of areas, and included reports of food contaminated with plastic, metal and glass fragments — as well as other foreign objects.

Amongst the more eye-catching examples detailed by the service were:

  • Meat discovered inside a chocolate yoghurt carton
  • A dirty finger nail in baby food
  • A chicken’s head in frozen chicken wings
  • A screw found in a pasta dish
  • Live insects in a packet of dates


  • A human tooth in a Chinese takeaway (yikes!)

Reassuringly, the agency’s press release points out:

“All complaints received by the FSAI were followed up and investigated by environmental health officers throughout the country”.


Breakdown of the 2,846 complaints over food and food premises [FSAI]

The FSAI’s Edel Smith said consumers were becoming increasingly vigilant “of the need to report bad practice or experiences they’ve had where food safety has been compromised”.

“We continue to encourage anyone who has had a bad experience in relation to poor hygiene or food safety standards to report the matter to us so that the issue can be investigated directly.”


Edel Smith of the FSAI and a bunch of phones… (The agency’s photo campaign today has been perhaps a little on the literal side) [Jason Clarke Photography]

The advice line is manned by trained advisors and food scientists and can be reached at 1890 336 677. Emailed complaints can be sent to

Read: “It’s not looking good”… Inishowen locals scramble to refloat weakened baby porpoise

Read: Which country consumes the most wine per capita?

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Daragh Brophy


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