Friday 28 February 2014

There's a fly in my soup

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland, which I've mentioned recently, fields any questions we may have about food safety.  They have just issued a statistical summary of the complaints they received in 2013.  The executive summary is that they are up 12.5% from the previous year.  But complaints are only a small proportion (a tad over 20%) of the calls fielded by the FSAI telephone helpline.  The rest are seeking advice, many (20%) of them from workers in the food industry confused by the mountainous requirements for labelling material on their premises.  The complaints are probably predictable in their distribution:
  • 41% unfit food
  • 19% suspected food poisoning
  • 20% hygiene standards
  • 7% on incorrect information on food labelling
  • 11% other
These are surely a gross underestimate of the problem across the country. 15 years ago we were visiting Parnell's birthplace at Avondale and stopped by the cafe for some refreshment.  It was cold and sad with the cool-counter barely stocked, and the two yoghurts on sale were 2 days beyond their sell-by date.  We pointed this out to the young woman at the till and she whisked them away.  I would never have thought to telephone (on my nickel!) the FSAI to complain.

Of course the data are much less interesting than the anecdotes "meat inside chocolate yoghurt; a dirty finger nail in baby food; a chicken’s head in frozen chicken wings; a screw in a pasta dish; glass in a ready meal; live insects in a packet of dates; and a human tooth in a Chinese takeaway".   If that's the worst that we have experienced in the whole country over the whole year, I'm not in the least bit worried.  It's a bit like those lists of things turned into lost property from trains - wooden legs, glass eyes, hundreds of unbrellas and a disconcerting number of false teeth.

On Newstalk-FM on Thursday morning, the spokesperson from the FSAI welcomed the increase in numbers as showing that The Public were more interested and concerned about food-safety. But they would say that wouldn't they?  The help line 1890 336677 is manned 9-5 by trained advisors and food scientists  (so a minimum of two of each?) who are fielding 60% of the 13,269 calls.  The maths suggests about 4 calls per hour (one each) over the 1800 hour working year.  Plenty of time for coffee, so.  According to the spokesperson on the wireless , the FSAI don't actually deal with the complaints but rather relay them to Environmental Health Officers EHOs employed by the Health Service Executive HSE.  If you wish to make a complaint about this or the mouse you found last night in your curried chips try If you're unemployed and fancy getting paid for doing this interesting if intermittent line of work, I'm sorry that  says "There are currently no Vacancies".

1 comment:

  1. your last sentence anticipated nicely my thoughts...sad am I therefore