Dead rat among items found in food
A dead rat in a bag of bananas and meatballs packed with a nut and washer were among the not-so-tasty treats discovered by Irish consumers last year.
A rubber tube in a loaf of bread, a dead spider in baby formula and an orange full of maggots were also some of the foreign objects found in food.
More than 2,400 complaints were made to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in 2011 - with 966 about unfit food. Grievances included food contaminated with live and dead insects, a tooth, a false nail, pieces of metal and a plaster, with many relating to food sold past its 'best-before' date.
Edel Conway, FSAI information manager, said consumers are more vigilant than ever.
"They expect and are entitled to adequate standards of food hygiene in every food establishment and across every food product they purchase," she said. "The potential health risks posed when poor food safety and hygiene standards are not met by food businesses can be serious, but are easily avoidable.
"Poor standards can be the result of a shoddy approach or ignorance where a food business has not made a priority to ensure they are following best practices to safeguard their customers' health."
Figures show a further 497 complaints were about suspect food poisoning, with 446 on hygiene standards, 137 over incorrect information in food labelling, 37 about incorrect advertising of food products and 332 on other matters. She said all complaints received were individually followed up and investigated.
Elsewhere 8,750 calls to the FSAI's advice line related to advice on food labelling, legal requirements for starting up a food business, food safety training information, food legislation, and requests for FSAI publications.
Ms Conway said there is no excuse for a food business to have poor standards across any area of its production processes.
"Our advice line is not only a service for consumer complaints, but also acts as an important resource tool for the food industry, where our experts are available to assist food business owners and managers raise their standards with the best available advice," she added.