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Food News

25th Mar 2024

Worms in frozen dumplings, dead mouse in box of strawberries, and snail found in coleslaw amongst FSAI customer complaints in 2023

Katy Thornton

The amount of customer complaints in a year continues on an upward trend.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) have released the figures for the customer complaints they received last year, which had increased by 8.3% from 2022. In 2023, they saw a total of 4,395 complaints from consumers, compared to the 4,058 complaints in 2022.

The majority of these complaints fit into three categories; 31.9% were due to poor hygiene standards, 27.2% to unfit food, and 26.7% to suspected food poisoning.

The breakdown of all complaints in 2023 are as follows:

  • Hygiene standards: 1,404
  • Unfit food: 1,196
  • Suspect food poisoning: 1,175
  • Labelling: 231
  • Allergen Information: 149
  • Others: 181
  • Unregistered food business: 59

Poor Hygiene Standards

The highest amount of customer complaints were down to poor hygiene, and consisted of the following:

  • Staff not having hair covered during food preparation
  • Dirty toilets
  • Staff handling food and cash with the same gloves
  • Food unprotected from contamination (e.g. flies around baked goods on the counter)
  • Bins outside overflowing and attracting animals
  • Dirty fridges
  • Food not being stored correctly
  • Visibly dirty premises
  • Rodents spotted

Unfit Food

Following closely behind poor hygiene standards as the second top complaint for food businesses was unfit food, with the following incidents just some that were reported.

  • Insect found in instant noodles
  • Snail found in coleslaw
  • Dead mouse found in punnet of strawberries
  • Stone found in black pudding
  • Mould in pre-packed rice bag
  • Piece of bone found in a chocolate bar
  • Worms in frozen dumplings
  • Piece of plastic inside a pepper
  • Part of a latex glove found in bag of spinach
  • A shard of glass in a loaf of bread
  • Metal shaving in takeaway noodles
  • Metal pin in a pre-packed salad

CEO of the FSAI Dr Pamela Byrne said this of the increase in complaints, and the requirement for the advice line:

“Our online complaint form continues to be a valuable resource enabling the public to contact us with their food safety complaints. It is crucial for food establishments to maintain high standards of food safety practices, and reports made by the public greatly assist Environmental Health Officers, veterinary and agricultural inspectors, sea-fisheries inspection officers, and laboratory staff in their work. While routine inspections are carried out regularly, reports from the public help to identify specific issues, ensuring swift identification of potential threats to public health. The increase in complaints reflects a growing awareness among the public of their right to safe food  and the importance of high standards of food safety and hygiene. We encourage anyone who observes poor hygiene or food safety practices to promptly report it to FSAI for thorough investigation by the relevant authorities.”

You can read all the data on the 2023 customer complaints on the FSAI website.


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