3,202 Food Complaints in 2016

At 3,202 complaints 2016 saw a 17% increase in the number received by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland from consumers relating to food, food premises and food labelling.

The number of complaints about food poisoning was up considerably by 45%, with poor hygiene standards being the second-highest reported, up 34% compared to 2015.

Complaints about incorrect information on food-labelling were also up by 15% while the number of complaints about unfit food rose 7% on 2015’s figure.

Complaints about incorrect information on food-labelling were also up by 15% while the number of complaints about unfit food rose 7% on 2015’s figure.

Specifically, there were:

  • 1,126 complaints on unfit food
  • 864 complaints on hygiene standards
  • 741 complaints on suspect food poisoning
  • 221 complaints on incorrect information on food labelling
  • 60 complaints on non-display of allergen information
  • 190 other


Consumers frequently reported contamination of food. In 2016 these reports included allegations of food contaminated with insects and glass as well as other foreign objects. For example: a live insect found in a packaged dessert; a long black hair in garlic sauce; glass in a dessert; a cigarette butt in a bag of chips as well as a human nail and plastic rope in takeaway meals.

Other complaints regarding poor hygiene standards referred to dirty customer toilets; rats seen on the premises; dirty tables and floors – and in one case a staff member at a deli sneezed into their hands and then prepared sandwiches without washing their hands. All complaints received by the FSAI were followed up and investigated by enforcement officers throughout the country.

The FSAI’s Advice Line also offers advice and information and during 2016 10,497 queries were received from a wide range of requesters including consumers, people working in the food service sector, manufacturers, retailers, researchers and consultants. The most popular queries concerned legislation on food labelling requirements, allergens and additives as well as requests for FSAI publications.

“The statistics from our Advice Line service continue to show an upward trend with consumers expressing much more concern and being more conscious about the food they consume and are being increasingly vigilant about food safety issues,” commented FSAI Information Manager Edel Smyth, “There’s 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’re seeing a welcomed increase 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.”

Approximately 39% of requests to the FSAI Advice Line in 2016 were received by telephone, while 52% were received electronically (ie by e-mail/website) which proves an increasingly popular source of contact. The remainder of requests (9%) included attendance at events and through the FSAI’s facebook and twitter pages.


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