Out of date meat sold in shops, door-to-door fish salesmen pushing sub-standard goods on vulnerable customers and dead snails found in frozen vegetables are among the food-related gripes raised by Scots consumers in the past 18 months.
A report published today by Citizens Advice Scotland found that more than 1,000 complaints relating to food and drink had been raised by shoppers north of the Border since August 2015.
Most common were complaints about products which shoppers had bought and later discovered were past the sell-by date – angering 138 people across Scotland – while almost 100 people raised issues relating to foreign bodies found in food, and unclear pricing.
One consumer from Glasgow told Citizens Advice Scotland that she had bought cold meat from her local supermarket but on returning home noticed the “use by” date was five days previously, while a man from Inverclyde became ill after drinking from a can of beer he had bought from a major supermarket chain which he noticed afterwards was out of date by months.
Foreign bodies in food was the next most common complaint type. While most related to processed foods such as ready meals, juices or frozen foods – a consumer in Dumfries and Galloway discovered a dead snail in a bag of frozen vegetables while he was cooking it – there were also some fresh foods that contained foreign bodies or pests.
Fraser Sutherland, spokesman for Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “As consumers there are few things more important than the food that we eat, and give our children to eat. We should be able to expect the best possible quality and service from anyone who sells us food and drink.
“Yet the cases we report today show that many Scots are not getting that basic service, and too many traders are falling short.”
There were 30 reports regarding the sale of counterfeit alcohol, some consumers reporting ill health after consuming these drinks. These cases were mostly associated with small convenience stores and were mostly found in the greater Glasgow area.
Supermarkets were the most commonly complained-about type of trader, followed by convenience stores and specialists, such as fishmongers, butchers, vintners and confectioners. A number of shoppers presented evidence of poor advice or compliance with allergy or dietary information provided by takeaways and restaurants.
One adviser at a Citizens Advice bureau in Edinburgh said a vulnerable client had been sold more than £500 worth of poor-quality fish by a seller who tried to persuade her to go to an ATM to withdraw cash to pay.
The Citizens Advice consumer helpline number is 03454 040506.