Ireland experienced the highest rate of food alerts in a decade during 2016. Food alerts generally follow the identification of pathogens like bugs or chemicals, which leads to products being taken off shelves or even withdrawn from the Irish market altogether. One example is the discovery of listeria monocytogenes, the bug that leads to Listeriosis, in prepared food dishes, snacks and milk products and, in one case, of insufficient product labeling tin.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) reported that there were 39 food alerts last year compared to 31 in 2015. There were an additional 28 food allergen alerts where certain products failed to list specific ingredients correctly. In total, the FSAI responded to 554 “food incidents” in 2016. In the EU there are 14 categories of allergens that must be labelled. Last year in Ireland milk, soybeans, eggs and nuts were the most common foods to have been incorrectly included in food packaging, which prompted a large number of these public alerts. Inaccurate labelling commonly occurs when an allergen is unknowingly incorporated in a product; for instance, when the ingredients are not listed in English, or when a product is placed in the incorrect packaging. Such food incidents are typically reported following inspections, consumer complaints, a notification from a business, laboratory results, or from notifications from other EU member states.