Complaints of food poisoning, allergic reactions and foreign bodies found in food increase by more than half during the festive season according to food safety specialists, Food Alert, who investigate and manage allegations on behalf of their clients.
Their records indicate that the number of food complaints received during December last year showed a 55 per cent increase compared to those handled during an average month. Incidents of alleged food poisoning were the most common complaint (79%), followed by reports of foreign bodies (13%) and allergic reactions (8%).
The two most common foods complained about over the festive period was calamari and chicken liver parfait.
David Bashford, Managing Director – Food Alert, said: “While Christmas is a critically important trading opportunity for operators it can also pose a risk from a food safety perspective. Maintaining standards during the Christmas rush is difficult and all it takes is one minor mistake and the consequences can be enormous.”
Venues are always busier and – with an influx of temporary staff and more bulk cooking of menu items – the possibility of policies and procedures not being followed can be higher. Couple that with customers, who may be more carefree with what they choose to eat and there is also a potential for allergic reactions.
David concluded: “How operators deal with issues and complaints is vital to keeping reputation intact and having watertight processes, training and supporting evidence trails in place are all absolutely crucial – and communication really is key!
“Identifying high-risk food processes and ingredients and formally conveying them to all employees, including temporary staff, is just one step that will help mitigate the number of incidents to ensure the lucrative festive period is a Christmas cracker for everyone.”