Complaints on incorrect food labelling up 10% on 2014

Some 192 complaints on incorrect information on food labelling were received by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s (FSAI) advice line in 2015.

This was an increase of 10% on 2014 and were part of 2,781 complaints made to the FSAI last year.

Examples of incorrect food labelling include not clearly highlighting allergens and in the case of anything being sold loose in a shop or cafe the allergen has to be available in written format for the consumer.

Overall in 2015 the FSAI received 2,739 complaints by consumers relating to food, food premises and food labelling.

The number of complaints was largely unchanged on 2014 (when 2,738 were received). However, there was an increase in complaints about poor hygiene standards of 14% on 2014.

On a more positive note, the number of complaints about unfit food was down 12% and complaints about food poisoning were down 4%.

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

  • 1,052 complaints on unfit food.
  • 643 complaints on hygiene standards.
  • 510 complaints on suspect food poisoning.
  • 192 complaints on incorrect information on food labelling.
  • 42 complaints on non-display of allergen information.
  • 342 other.

The contamination of food with foreign objects was frequently reported to the FSAI by consumers.

In 2015, these reports included allegations of food contaminated with dead insects and metal, as well as other foreign objects.

For example, an animal tooth in jam; a beetle in a burger bun; a worm in a chicken nugget; a metal screw in a cake; a snail in pick ‘n’ mix sweets; and a sharp piece of glass in frozen peas.

Other complaints reported to the authority were regarding unfit food referred to undercooked food being served in food premises; out-of-date food being sold in retail outlets; mouldy bread being used to make sandwiches and strange tastes coming from food.

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

Of the 11,832 requests received by the FSAI’s Advice Line during 2015, 49% were from food businesses seeking advice and information across a range of food related areas.

Key areas of advice sought included information about labelling requirements; allergens and additives; resources for food business start-ups; information on training, standards and legislation; as well as requests for FSAI publications.

Edel Smyth, Information Manager, FSAI said that in recent years, consumers have become much more conscious about the food they consume and are increasingly vigilant about food safety issues.

“There is now a low level of tolerance around poor hygiene standards and food that is unfit to eat in particular.

“This is a welcome development and is reflected in the level of complaints we receive directly from consumers.

“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.”