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THE FOOD SAFETY Authority of Ireland (FSAI) issued 39 food alerts last year – the highest number in 10 years.
The reasons for the alerts included presence of a foreign body, presence of pathogens (bugs) and chemical contamination.
The alerts resulted in either product recalls or withdrawals from the Irish market.
The FSAI said the food ranged from dietetic foods/food supplements due to the presence of amphetamine-like substance to unauthorised novel food ingredients.
There were cases of confectionary items containing plastic pieces, the presence of Salmonella in soups, broths sauces and condiments and Listeria monocytogenes being identified in prepared food dishes, snacks and milk products.
In one case there was a recall due to insufficient sterilization of a product.
Meanwhile some 28 food allergen alerts were also issued to food inspectors and food businesses. Food allergen alerts are issued by the FSAI regarding the possible risk to consumers with food allergies or food intolerances from a particular food.
In Ireland, milk, soybeans, eggs and nuts were the most common allergens incorrectly labelled/declared in 2016.
Three in every 100 people in Ireland have a food allergy and the seriousness of these occurrences can result in the loss of life to an individual in its most extreme form and can also result in urgent medical treatment and serve allergic reactions.
Overall in 2016, the FSAI dealt with 554 food incidents and 67 food alerts and food allergen alerts were issued, as a consequence.
The identification of a food incident can arise for a number of reasons such as an inspection by a food inspector, a complaint from a consumer, the food business informing the FSAI that they have a problem with a certain food, laboratory results or notifications from other member states through the European Commission’s network.
Chief Executive of the FSAI Dr Pamela Byrne said, “Issuing food alerts and food allergen alerts is a reflection of the seriousness of food incidents, some of which have the potential to cause serious harm to consumers.
The increase in recent years of food allergen alerts and food alerts is indicative of the need for food businesses to not only ensure the food they place on the market is safe, but that it is also labelled correctly, especially in the case of allergens.
Anyone who wants to be notified about the food alerts or food allergen alerts can subscribe to get free FSAI email or text alerts directly.