Discovering a foreign object is not pleasant. However, not all foreign bodies pose a risk to public health. Below is a list of common food complaints often received by Environmental Health:
There are certain natural constituents of some seafood’s (notably salmon, tuna, mackerel, shrimp etc.), which during the canning process, can result in the formation of magnesium ammonium phosphate. Very occasionally, this chemical can form crystals, which can grow to a size large enough to attract attention from the user of canned seafood. The crystals at first appearance resemble glass. Naturally consumers who are unfamiliar with this phenomenon may be alarmed and assume that careless factory discipline or sabotage is to blame.
Struvite crystals are not harmful and will dissolve in vinegar if gently heated for 15-20 minutes. If the object was glass it would not dissolve. If you discover the object to be glass then you should contact The Food Team.
Often complaints are received about foods that have mould present as a result of damaged, dented, torn packaging. This may indicate an error in the production process, the way the product is stored or the way the product was handled. You should contact Enviromental Health for further advice.
Fish – Codworm
Consumers sometimes find in white fish (cod and haddock) a small brown worm in the flesh. These worms are killed in the cooking process and are harmless. During processing of the fish normally any affected fish are removed but occasionally they are missed. If you find a worm you should return it to the supplier/manufacturer.
Bakery Goods – Char
Bread and cakes may contain bits of overcooked dough which has flaked off the baking tin. Consumers often relate these to being mouse droppings because of their size, colour and shape. The presence of Char does not necessarily indicate poor hygiene within the premises. If you find Char in a product you should contact the manufacturer.