FSAI advice line received nearly 3,500 food complaints in 2019

The FSAI recorded an increase in consumer complaints relating to inadequate pest control in food premises last year

25% increase in consumer complaints relating to the provision of allergen information



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24 February 2020

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Over 3,460 consumer complaints were handled by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s (FSAI) advice line in 2019, with over half of those relating to complaints of unfit food and poor hygiene standards.

Overall, the 2019 complaints saw a marginal increase on the 3,424 complaints reported in 2018, with the number of reports relating to non-display of allergen information up significantly at 25%. A considerable increase was also noted among issues relating to poor hygiene standards at 19% and suspected food poisoning incidents were up 8%.

Pest control

The FSAI noted an increase in the number of complaints from consumers in relation to inadequate pest control in food premises and this has also been reflected in Enforcement Orders. A new FAQ section has been added to the FSAI website in order to provide guidance to food businesses on how best to reduce the risk of pests in their premises and what to do if they discover pests.

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

  • 1,134 complaints on hygiene standards
  • 1,082 complaints on unfit food
  • 792 complaints on suspect food poisoning
  • 149 complaints on incorrect information on food labelling
  • 135 complaints on non-display of allergen information
  • 113 other


Worryingly, contamination of food with foreign objects was frequently reported by consumers. In 2019, these reports included allegations of food containing insects, plastics and other foreign objects. For example, hair was reported several times as being present in a number of foods, as well as false nails, small pieces of stone, metal and plastic. Other reports to the FSAI included a snail in a whole chicken; a caterpillar in pork chops; and a butterfly/moth in fresh cream.

Complaints regarding poor hygiene standards in food premises cited live mice and evidence of rodent activity throughout food handling and storage areas; staff failing to wash their hands when cooking and serving food; pigeons in the deli area; and flies noted throughout a premises.

Advice hub

The FSAI’s advice line also offers advice and information and during 2019, there were 8,964 queries from people working in the food service sector; manufacturers; retailers; researchers; and consultants. Some of the most popular queries were regarding legislation on food labelling requirements; requests for FSAI publications, as well as information for new food businesses setting up operations.

“The figures from last year show that consumers too are becoming increasingly attentive as to how food establishments are expected to operate in terms of food safety in Ireland,” said Dr Pamela Byrne, chief executive, FSAI.  

The FSAI advice line, which operates from 10am to 4pm 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.




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