Live insect in dessert among 1,126 complaints to food safety chiefs in 2016
A cigarette butt in a bag of chips, a human nail and plastic rope in takeaway meals and a live insect in a packaged dessert were some of the complaints made to food safety chiefs last year.
While there were 1,126 reports to watchdogs about food that was not fit for consumption, the number of hygiene i ssues also soared to 864 and there were 741 cases of suspected food poisoning.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said its advice line took in 3,202 complaints from consumers last year on food standards, premises and labelling in 2016.
The agency said food being co ntaminated by foreign objects was a frequent issue with a long black hair in garlic sauce and other reports of insects and glass in food among the reports.
Complaints about the standards in premises included dirty toilets, rats being seen, dirty tables and floors and one case where a deli counter worker sneezed into their hands and then prepared sandwiches without washing their hands.
The FSAI said all complaints it received were followed up and investigated by enforcement officers.
Edel Smyth, the agency's information manager, said: "T here is a culture developing amongst consumers, which indicates zero tolerance towards poor hygiene standards and, in particular, food that is unfit to eat.
"As consumers in Ireland become more vocal about the standards they expect from food establishments, we are seeing a welcomed increase in the level of complaints we receive directly from consumers."
The FSAI said there was a 17% increase in complaints on 2015 with the number of complaints about food poisoning up 45% and p oor hygiene standards up 34%.
There were 221 complaints on incorrect information on food labelling and 60 complaints on non-display of allergen information.