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Food Safety

Live insects in rice and snail in fruit packets: The FSAI handled 2,700 complaints last year

Most complaints were over unfit food or poor hygiene standards, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said.

THE FOOD SAFETY Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has said today it handled 2,772 consumer complaints to its advice line in 2020, a fall of 20% on the previous year. 

This reduction in numbers largely reflects the impact of Covid-19, which forced many food service businesses to close for long periods of the year, the FSAI said.

Most complaints related either to unfit food (34%) or poor hygiene standards (30%). 

The organisation said that all the complaints it received last year were followed up and investigated. 

It found that reports of contamination of food with foreign objects were frequent in 2020. 

Examples included hair being found in a number of foods, sharp glass in soup and fried noodles, live insects crawling through rice and snails in a packet of spinach and a bag of frozen mixed fruits. 

Small pieces of stone, moths and rodent droppings in food were also reported.

Complaints over poor hygiene standards in food premises cited issues such as live mice and evidence of rodent activity in a case, a lack of personal hygiene from staff, the smell of sewage in food premises and no hot water for hand washing. 

Of the complaints that weren’t over unfit food or hygiene standards, 429 were complaints of suspected food poisoning, 100 were over incorrect information on food labelling, 28 were on the non-display of allergen information while 34 related to advertising. 

A further 371 complaints were labelled “other”. The FSAI said this related to unregistered food businesses or Covid-19 restrictions. 

A further 7,767 queries were made to the FSAI’s advice line from people working in the food service sector. These queries ranged from Covid-19 and Brexit queries to legislation on food labelling requirements and information for start-ups.

FSAI chief executive Dr Pamela Byrne said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, our advice line has been a valuable resource for consumers who continued to contact us with complaints about food safety and hygiene in food businesses even with the Level 5 restrictions which resulted in the temporary closures of many food businesses.

“The consistently high number of complaints shows us that consumers are continuing to grow increasingly aware of their right to safe food, and also the food safety and hygiene standards which should be in place across all food businesses. We are urging food businesses to take advantage of the resources available on our website to ensure they are meeting their legal requirements.”

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