The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) handled over 3,400 complaints from consumers in 2019, with over half of these relating to unfit food and poor hygiene.
According to the FSAI, its advice line dealt with 3,460 consumer complaints last year, a slight increase on 2018's figure of 3,424.
The highest number of complaints - 1,134 - related to hygiene standards. These included complaints about live mice and evidence of rodent activity in food handling and storage areas, pigeons in a deli area, flies throughout a premises and staff failing to wash their hands when cooking and serving food.
The second highest number of complaints - 1,082 - was made about unfit food. Other complaints included suspected food poisoning, incorrect food labeling and the non-display of allergen information.
In fact, 135 complaints were made about the non-display of allergen information - a 25% increase on the previous year.
The FSAI noted that there were frequent reports about the contamination of food with foreign objects. These objects ranged from hair and false nails to insects, metal and plastic.
In one case, a snail was found in a whole chicken, while in another, a caterpillar was found in pork chops.
Meanwhile, the FSAI advice line also dealt with 8,964 queries from people working in the food service sector, manufacturers, retailers, researchers and consultants.
According to FSAI chief executive, Dr Pamela Byrne, the advice line is a valuable resource for consumers and food businesses.
"The figures from last year show that consumers are becoming increasingly attentive as to how food establishments are expected to operate in terms of food safety in Ireland.
"By reporting their incidents around hygiene, labelling, food safety practices and pest control, members of the public and people working in the food sector provide us with the information we need to do our work effectively," she said.
She noted that in 2019, there was an increase in the number of complaints from concerned consumers regarding pest control. In response to this, the FSAI has added a pest control FAQ for food businesses to its website.
"Pest control is critical because pests can carry harmful bacteria that can contaminate foods. This can cause illness or spoil food. Pests can also cause financial damage to food businesses and affect their reputation. This new webpage will act as a valuable resource for food businesses concerned about pests," Dr Byrne added.
The FSAI advice line, which operates from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday, is manned by trained advisors and food scientists. Call 1890 33 66 77 or email email@example.com. You can also make a complaint online here.
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