FSAI advice line received 3,000+ calls in 2016

Dr. Pamela Byrne, FSAI chief executive
Dr. Pamela Byrne, FSAI chief executive

The Food Safety Authority has published the findings of its Advice Line for 2016, revealing 3,202 complaints by consumers pertaining to suspected food poisoning by food premises and food labelling.

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8 February 2017 | 0

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s (FSAI) has published the findings of its Advice Line, which received 3,202 complaints in 2016, by consumers relating to food, food premises and food labelling. This figure represents an increase of 17% on 2015 (2,739 calls). The number of complaints about food poisoning was up considerably at 45%.  Poor hygiene standards were the second highest reported, with an increase of 34%, as compared with 2015, while complaints about incorrect information on food labelling were up 15%. The number of complaints about unfit food was up 7%, when compared with 2015.

Consumer complaints ranged from reports of food unfit to eat, to non-display of allergen information:

  • 1,126 complaints on unfit food
  • 864 complaints on hygiene standards
  • 741 complaints on suspect food poisoning
  • 221 complaints on incorrect information on food labelling
  • 60 complaints on non-display of allergen information
  • 190 other

Contamination of food with foreign objects was frequently reported by consumers.  In 2016, these reports included allegations of food contaminated with insects, glass and other foreign objects.  For example, a live insect found in a packaged dessert; a long black hair in garlic sauce; a human nail in a takeaway meal; glass in a dessert; plastic rope in a takeaway meal; and a cigarette butt in a bag of chips. Other complaints regarding poor hygiene standards referred to dirty customer toilets; rats seen on the premises; dirty tables and floors: and one case of a staff member at a deli sneezing into their hands and then preparing sandwiches without washing their hands.

All complaints received by the FSAI were followed up and investigated by enforcement officers throughout the country.

“There is a culture developing amongst consumers which indicates zero tolerance towards poor hygiene standards,” says Edel Smyth, information manager, FSAI, “in particular, food that is unfit to eat. We continue to encourage anyone who has had a bad food safety experience to report the matter to the FSAI so that the issue can be dealt with.”

“Our Advice Line, supported by our comprehensive website and online publication ordering system are important resources for the food industry where our experts are available to assist food business owners and managers,” says Dr. Pamela Byrne, chief executive, FSAI. “We urge food businesses to take full advantage of the support provided to ensure they are meeting their legal requirements.”

Approximately 39% of requests to the FSAI Advice Line in 2016 were received by telephone, while 52% were received electronically (i.e. by email/website), which is proving to be an increasingly popular source of contact.  The remainder of requests (9%) included attendance at events and through the FSAI’s facebook and Twitter pages.

The FSAI Advice Line, which operates from 9am to 5pm weekdays, is manned by trained advisors and food scientists and can be reached at info@fsai.ie or through the ‘make a complaint’ section of the FSAI website. The FSAI facebook and Twitter pages are also resources with up-to-the-minute information in relation food safety: www.facebook.com/FSAI and @FSAIinfo.

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