Take a deep breath everyone and put down those snacks. Complaints about food have been rising dramatically in the last year, so grit your teeth as we cover someÂ of the stranger and more disgusting things people have found when tuckingÂ intoÂ a meal or snack.
I see a wide range of rather troubling photographs of disturbing things found in food. Recently, I was particularly troubled by a substance looking like solidified glue that was found lurking in some cornflakes. The mystery hair baked through a loaf of bread was a bit of a worry too.
It's perhaps inevitable that some unwanted items might find their way in to the food that we eat. Our food often travels thousands of miles to our plates, or hangs about in various warehouses awaiting delivery or prep. Ample time for a critter to jump on board or something weird to fall in to your food.
The latest food shockers I've seen have included:
Worms in a microwave fish meal.A two-inch bone in a fishfinger.A human fingernail in a vegetarian sausage (the irony police loved that one) and another that turned up in a bar of chocolate.A beak in a chicken dish '“ and a chicken shrink-wrapped with some batteries (insert battery chicken joke here).A selection of fried earwigs in a packet of crisps.A lizard that had been vacuum sealed on to a cucumber
That's just a small selection of the unwelcome surprises lurking in food across the land. Aside from being gross, there's potentially a real threat to our health with these hygiene slip-ups. What's more worrying, by far the most common items found in food are wood, plastic and metal shards (some really quite long).
What can you do when your food isn't what it should be?
First things first, you should always make a complaint just so the shop is aware that there's been a significant problem.
Photograph the item and receipt when you do this if you can and return it to the shop for investigation. If you've been injured or your health has been affected, get a doctor's note and include this with your complaint.
If you find something unexpected (or disturbing) in your food then you can expect a written apology a refund and some compensation. However, don't start booking that holiday or paying off your mortgage just yet.
We've always been amazed by how stingy big businesses like supermarkets are when it comes to items that have clearly found their way in to products they've sold. The norm seems to be a voucher around the Â£10 to Â£20 mark though we have seen higher amounts where there's some negative publicity in the media. But even then, it's rarely over Â£100.
If you want to take things further, the options are limited. You can report a shop or restaurant to your local Trading Standards or Environmental Health Officer.
But this won't help with your individual complaint. Ultimately, you'd have to take the business to court. I think there needs to be an ombudsman for shops, restaurants and food manufacturers, watch this space'¦
So keep an eye out occasionally when you're tucking in to your food.Â Â A wide range of beasties, creepy crawlies, and other living/formerly living creatures can sometimes ship up in your shop-bought produce.
If you spot something that shouldn't be there, try to trap if humanely and get in touch with your local Environmental Health Department.