/ Food & Drink, Health, Shopping

What alien objects have you found in your food?


Today Mars has issued a Europe-wide recall, including in the UK, after plastic was found in Mars and Snickers chocolate bars. Have you made any weird or gross food discoveries?

Mars has advised in a statement earlier today that the affected products shouldn’t be eaten, further information is not yet available as the company’s website is unresponsive.

The recall, across 55 countries, currently affects all Mars, Snickers, Milky Way Minis and miniatures, and certain packs of Celebrations.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency has advised against eating the affected products, and to contact Mars’ consumer care team on 0800 952 0084, recall@uk.mars.com, or by post at Mrsa R1, FREEPOST, Mars Consumer Care.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I sit there and think about the number of times I’ve found some unexpected objects lurking in my food or drink, I’m surprised that I’m even prepared to consume anything outside of the confines of my own home.

Apparently quality control is this great safety net to make sure the food we consume won’t throw up any surprises… or worse, cause us harm. But things do slip through the net.

Food discoveries

Last summer, a friend of mine purchased a supermarket ready-made salad; she was all ready to tuck into her tasty (healthy) looking salad when she found a slimy little critter tucked under one of the salad leaves. It was a live snail, albeit a bit of extra protein, it fully put her off of her lunch.

Now, I’ve found hairs before, but I’ve not had anything living crop up in my grub – unwashed salad has chucked up the odd dead slug, but I do sort of expect this to happen with fresh fruit and veg, just maybe not a ready to eat salad though.

But, on a slightly more serious note, I’ve found a more hazardous object before. I once bought a drink which had a bit of a rattle in the bottle, I peered into the drink where I then spotted a small shard of glass. Realising how dangerous this was I went straight back to the retailer.

What’s in your food?

Health hazards like this usually result in a recall of products, as with today’s recall of Mars and Snickers bars.

That’s not to say that a slimy grimy snail in your salad isn’t a health hazard – any added unsuspected objects could be a hazard. That’s in addition to not being very pleasant, or what you’ve paid for.

So have you had any strange unexpected objects in your food before? What did you do?


Last week I was in a restaurant and found quite a considerable amount of plastic in a duck terrine. They were very apologetic about it, with the chef personally coming out to apologise, offering ‘something’. I suggested free desert. They brought out a huge slice of Apple tart on a platter you’d normally serve a chicken on, along with a huge bowl of ice-cream.

I don’t think I’ve had much luck, as in a pub I ordered a burger and bit down into a disc of plastic. The type they use to keep burgers seperate in a pack.

Another time I found a staple in my creme brulee. All of their deserts were taken off the menu…

Other than very burnt crisps, there’s been nothing I’ve found in products themselves.

I remember on QI that there is a certain amount of flexibility on what is allowed in products, such as insect limbs or rat hairs.

There is also a dark side to this, where people purposely put things in their food and complain to the restaurant in order to get a free meal.

Speaking from experience? 😉

Sean makes a good point. I believe it is vital not to offer any form of financial compensation to anyone who finds foreign objects in food. If no harm is done, a sincere apology is enough. By all means report the problem to the Environmental Health department in the local council and let them deal with the incident.

I heard a story where about 15 travellers used to visit a restaurant, eat a good 3 course meal with drinks, then one of them would find something in their desert. They would then refuse to pay and walk out. The restaurant closed down in the end as refusing to serve them other things happened.

Yours is the first post of someone finding a staple in their food that I have been able to find.
Last November my husband prepared a tuna salad for me for lunch. There was a staple in the tuna and, unfortunately, I swallowed it, without knowing what it was. It stuck in my oesphagus and had to be removed in hospital. The surgeon was astounded when he dug it out. I then spent 9 days in hospital, 8 of them nil by mouth, because the consultant wanted to make sure there was no perforation of the trachea. It was the most wretched week I have ever spent. The pain was awful as the feeding tube was directly rubbing on the part of my throat that had been torn. I have since contacted the manufacturers who investigated, only to tell me that no staples of that type were used in their manufacturing process. They sent me a box of tuna and £20 compensation, which I will not be accepting. As a gesture it is inappropriate ( I will never eat tuna again!) and paltry for the pain and trauma it caused me.

Debra Rose says:
1 August 2016

Can you update me on what happened?

Yes Patrick,,,,,,,,,,,the allowable’s……………Many people wont want to know about those bits but ,any people dont want to know that the world ain’t perfect and neither is our food……………
Fresh eggs,,,,,,,,,,,,,They’ll still be fine for weeks after the little hen laid them
Fresh milk sounds like it came form Mrs cow yesterday when in fact it didnt and i would not like to gues how long some of it has hung around in big stainless tanks………..
Being brought up in the country I expect to see a little “dirt” on eggs but those with the little “dirt” are so much better than the badged free range………..Our eggs are lovely…………..
I expect potatoes or spuds to me to have soil on them not a sprinkling of moss/compost and I dont want them washed as they keep better……………..
Carrots the same…………….
It takes an awful amount of energy to supply the vast amounts of clean water that is simply flushed over the potatoes and carrots etc and ran straight away…………………..
There is little or no way to have the perfection that we have came to expect of our food……………..Don’t get me wrong….I dont like the mistakes but mistakes will happen and that is why we can taste/feel and smell…………
If it feels odd,,,tastes odd or smells odd dont eat it………….Your senses are much better than any use by date or quality control system…………
Just my usual wacky views

My only worrying experience was when chewing Thornton’s Brazil Nut Toffee my teeth met something very solid. I recovered something white that looked like a piece of Brazil nut – and to my horror discovered that it was in fact a piece of my wisdom tooth. 😁

Eek… we’ve just been talking today about how brazil nuts are radioative…

Hi Patrick,
Our family in general are bonkers about Brazil and almonds. . We all ate them from children up
Love them both and I’m sitting with a bag of Brazil right beside me now munching away happily
I’ll run a little machine I have over them later but as they are part of the furniture here I’ll forecast because they were not known to me before as being a problem as I have been around the house many times that they’ll turn out better than some of our grasslands
I cannot help but notice though that they also contain Alfatoxins. . I would be more concerned about those and I am reading about this
Thanks Patrick, ,I love snippets of such info

There’s certainly something strange inside the shell of Cadbury’s creme eggs – I think they should all be recalled.

John, that delicious fondant goo makes the Cadbury’s creme egg a delight to eat!

I do, however, remember hearing feedback from one member who bought a chocolate bar (I have a feeling it could’ve been Mars), and finding either sawdust or a screw in it. Rather bizarre, I know!

Personally, though, I’ve not found anything remotely alien in any food I’ve bought *touch wood*. Closest was a fly once found in one of the sandwiches bought from one of the coffee high street chains. I was given 2 free cups of coffee as compensation 😀

When I was a child me and my family went out for dinner. The evening was going well but then I was horrified to find a bit of plastic in my ice cream.

The restaurant apologised and offered my parents free coffee. My parents. Nothing for me! I’m still not over it.

I must be unlucky as I have found quite a few bits and pieces in food. Plastic in tinned soup, glass in various items, a staple in a sausage, hairs….

I usually send it back to the manufacturer so they can remedy what is causing the problem. Sometimes they just say sorry, and thank you for telling them, other times I get a few vouchers. I have never seen the product recalled though.

In my morning porridge I used to find a little black oatflake which
I initially thought was a fly. They seem to have disappeared of late so maybe people have complained about them. I also recall my mother frequently used to leave the little hard shell encasing the pips in the core of the stewed apple and custard which used to make me gag, as to me they resembled a finger nail……….ugh! Strange because none of my siblings used to complain so maybe I was too pernickity in my youth.

My mother not being wasteful, used to the same thing. It put me off stewed apple for life.

Yuk !!!

I also like to take the roughage with the smooth sometimes.

No doubt a good source of dietary fibre Lauren if you are not troubled by thoughts of swallowing finger nails 🙁

Other people’s certainly, but I know folk who are always nibbling their own.

I am currently returning some Sainsbury;s Taste the Difference Scottish Whole Rolled Oats as it has come with added insects [weevils]. On the bright side Taste the Difference may well have been true. It has 5 months before its best by date.

I will let you know when I have had a response which will be once they marry up my complaint with the merchandise.

Flour frequently comes with weevils or they can hatch after a while, so you might want to check that also !!!

After having weevils get into everything once, we now store flour in sealed bags.

I think Patrick has a penchant for eating creepy crawlies on occasion. I recall a picture he posted together with staff members sampling a selection of minibeasts a while ago.

We deserve to know if any of your colleagues are still working for Which?

Just Tom, I’m sad to say.

Just to show my added value .. found on a forum this week

“An artisanal pasta-maker in northeastern France is struggling to meet demand after adding a crunchy, protein-rich ingredient to the noodles: insects.
“The name of the ingredient may be a turnoff, but it’s really delicious, especially with game meat,” smiles Alain Limon as he spreads cricket-flavoured fusilli on a drying rack.
Limon, 52, is the only employee at the Atelier a Pates (Pasta Workshop) in Thiefosse, northeastern France.
His boss Stephanie Richard began her homemade pasta business in 2012, and is now hiring again thanks to the success of her latest creations made from insect flour.
“The insect is the protein of the future,” Richard says. “It ‘s protein of high quality that is well digested by the body.”
For Richard’s unique pastas, she uses pulverised crickets and grasshoppers, sometimes mixing the two, and sometimes mixing ground cepes with cricket flour.
“There’s a kind of nutty taste thanks to the cepes, making it taste more like whole wheat pasta,” Richard says.
Whole eggs are added to a mixture of seven percent insect flour to 93 percent organic spelt wheat flour, producing a brownish pasta that is shaped into radiatori, fusilli, spaghetti and penne.

You do dig up some interesting pieces, Diesel. I think I shall abstain for the time being.

@patrick, can I suggest that we do a revamped, bug-eating convo in future 🙂

I still have the bag of catepillers at home… I’m not sure what the Best Before date is on them…

I’m not sure we can afford to lose any more members of the Which? team, Andrew. 🙂

I think I suggested a Which? viral video at the time. Insecticidal ones might be a turn-off. There’s a difference between highest grossing and most gross.

A Which? viral video? Sound’s like a good suggestion! Any topic in particular, wavechange? I agree, sadly – another convo about eating insects may ‘bug’ a few visitors 😉

Michelle says:
25 March 2016

What do they look like?? Xx

By the way, there’s something pleasing about their being an ‘alien’ object in a Mars bar. Missed opportunity for a pun there @ldeitz!

Milky Ways are affected by the recall too. The cost to the company could be astronomical.

This convo is going off Topic.
When I was little (black and white days) I was bought a doughnut in Bournemouth that had a wasp (deceased) in the jam. Perhaps celebrities would be regarded as a delicacy these days.

I do think you get better jam in a modern doughnut [and I didn’t miss the Topic joke – thank you for that Malcolm; did you plan it? – or was it on the tip of your tongue?]

“plan it”. He he he. Just got it.

But didn’t you feel you had been stung?

John Chapman says:
24 February 2016

I once found a broken bit of a ceramic jar in a Mr Kipling apple & blackcurrent fruit pie. I wrote to them about it and was completely ignored.

Hi @ldeitz – Maybe your Convo could become memorable if it featured a photo or even video of the most unusual (and genuine) foreign object that turns up in our food. I hope I won’t be contributing.

And, picking up on what Lauren says in her Intro, I hope we won’t “throw up any surprises” either!

Alien objects…
The average female human eats around 1.7 kilograms of lipstick over the course of a lifetime. Given that some red lipsticks contain lead, that’s not the sort of snack you should be aiming for. L-cysteine is an amino acid that is used in many commercial breads to extend the shelf life. L-cysteine is mostly made from the finest human hair swept from the floors of Chinese barbers. Any red sweets probably derive their red colouring from the additive E120. This distinctive dye is produced by crushing the cochineal bug, a cute little fellow from the suborder Sternorrhyncha.

Read the side of your toothpaste tube and you’ll see that manufacturers are really quite emphatic that you shouldn’t eat their product. This is because many toothpastes include nasties like sodium lauryl sulfate and the well known fluoride, which as well as keeping your teeth nice and shiny is also used to kill rats. Remember: spit, don’t swallow.

The Food and Drug Administration in America publishes legally allowed amounts of insects in food – canned mushrooms are the worst for maggots apparently with 20 maggots being allowed per 100g of drained mushrooms.

A spokesman for Britain’s Food Standards Authority said that “In EU Food Law there are no allowable limits of foreign bodies in food and there is no published list of ‘tolerance’ levels of foreign bodies / matter in food. The expectation of food is that it is not contaminated.” Fingers crossed.

Again, thanks to the FDA we know that in the US 11 rodent hairs per 50g of ground cinnamon is an “acceptable” level. Thankfully it’s only 1 rodent hair per 100g of chocolate though. If ever you fancy some light, vomit-inducing reading then the FDA’s Food Defect Action Levels is well worth a look.

Fancy a pint of greenfly? Surely nothing could put you off a delicious pint of beer? How about the acceptable levels of 3,500 aphids per 10 grams of hops? As you might well think: that’s a lot of aphids. No wonder beer makes you feel bad the next day. Taking the healthy option and having a salad for lunch? Good for you – let’s hope that the worst you ever get from your bag of mixed leaves is the occasional slug. Better that than you get any of the bacterias like cryptosporidium, salmonella or listeria which have all been found lurking on ready-made salad leaves. Bon appetit.

With thanks to the Telegraph.

I always rinse my mouth of toothpaste and I brush my teeth many times per day.
I never trusted the contents

Lead in lipstick….Lead is very heavy stuff??

Further truly revolting reading:


Funny Ian I dont find the insects as much of a scunner as your slightly earlier post which was more about harmful stuff and to me the longer earlier post was much more interesting

I think that it is the removal from actual real world food production that leaves many thinking that everything is like squeaky clean and sterile when it is all but impossible to avoid insects
They’re a pretty good source of protein I’m told although I’d not volunteer as such

But, , We have loads of briers around here and wild raspberries and I eat serious amounts I mean 100s and probably 1000s of the berries and wifey is always saying she could not eat those because there’s bugs in them.
I’m trying to tell here that the supermarket berries are no different.

If you were to start working on a dairy farm you’d not drink milk for a few days. . I can swear to that but then you’d realise that this is reality and there’s nothing wrong with the milk. . . This is the way things are

I am pretty good to animals but I can put an animal down provide there is good reason but I dont do it easily nor without conscience as such.
I can dispatch a rooster and do regular without a thought because to not do this is to be cruel as they become adults and like humans they will compete and will fight to the death and to see that is simply way beyond anything I can tolerate.
This is a reality of having free range birds or rather my wife keeping free range birds.. . .She of course is nowhere to be seen for a few minutes
One does not waste the bird of course and that would be another wake up call for the supermarket shopper.

Can anyone poke a hole in the end of an egg and suck the contents out. . .This was a pretty normal thing when I was young and I can still do this because our birds live a different life to the commercial flocks even the free range commercial flocks.
There will be readers who find this terrible and cannot imagine doing this but not so long ago this was commonplace anywhere
When I was no age and needed a little building up after being ill we got raw egg and milk beaten up and we loved it. . .So there’s the difference. . .We loved it,,we did not choke at the thought..

Times have changed and many are isolated from much for better or worse but isolated many are

This comment was removed at the request of the user

This comment was removed at the request of the user

How appropriate that I should discover this thread as only a few days ago I purchased a frozen Bramley apple pie and found a several chick peas in in each portion. I have emailed a report to the manufacturer and I am currently awaiting a reply.
I wonder how common it is to find such faults ?

First we had plastic in chocolate and now we can look forward to blue rubber in our cereal. Blue is not my favourite colour so I think I will keep on searching for the flies in my porridge! Maybe we should just stick to eating toast and marmalade or peanut butter for our morning brekkie.

Hi Beryl, , I dont mean to burst your bubble or offend. . . .indeed I dont want anyone’s wrath

Your bread is usually wheat in origin

No odds what you do or how you do it long before you’ve had your toast there will have been little contributions made to your wheat by little animals we probably think are kept far from our food but it is all but impossible to eliminate such events

All possible efforts will have been made to keep the little fellows away from the grain but from the field to the mill they will do all they can to have their share and leave the evidence behind

We once or rather my grandparents grew oats or as we knew it “corn”
My granny rolled them and eventually made all kinds of “oat’y” things including porridge
I just about remember a small mill driven via a horse walk and its the horse walking in endless circles that sticks in my head and that mill ground the oats and what little wheat they could manage to grow as our climate make that one very difficult. . . Always had to on the low fields and only on south facing slope
Today we have herbicides and fungicides used on all grain
But one thing we knew. . . There had been vermim around and everything needed cooked

Your marmalade will either be orange or lemon. . Both are sprayed with herbicide and fungicide, , Rather large amounts of it and again there are animals who have a soft spot for soft fruit

Peanuts have an array of pests who just love the nutters
Worms,, caterpillars and beetles, , , larvae are laid in them and so on
Again man made chemicals play a large part and like all there is not a snowballs chance in H*** of feeding the hoards without it

So Beryl if I were you I’d continue to eat your cereals of whatever style or type you like
I cannot think on any food that has not had some kind of contact with animals insects or both but as long as it’s processed/cooked and done properly everyone should be fine and if there’s one thing that food factories are good at it’s processing/cooking and packing food. . . They have all kinds of batch records of times,,temps and so forth

The cooking is the important bit as always

Believe it or not I see an up side to this plastic and rubber thing because unlike some industries the food industry seem to be better at recalls and getting info into the international press than other more secretive industries and I cannot help but hit VW here again who had again announced delays and probably rising costs and holding back on dear knows what while they have another company conduct and internal investigation or maybe cover up on their behave

So, , , I look at it as we have no trouble finding plastic or rubber. . . Our mouths are very good at finding “strange things” After all we’ve been practising since we were a few months old
If we were to swallow these small bits our bodies are also very good at getting rid of the strange bits via the usual route. . .There is quite a lot of grit, sand, soil in many foods and we pass it straight through

I remember working in southern Africa very remote place
There was no chance of having cereals without little creepy crawly’s
Once one got to see that everyone else was pouring out endless bowls and knocking them into them one began to do the same. . . Quickly one discovered that one would not have spiders coming out of ones ears before the weekend and everything seemed to taste pretty good anyhow
I thought I’d just add that bit as it came to mind

Unfit for human consumption springs to mind DeeKay but I loved the tale. I would have thought you, (and more alarmingly a small child) are more likely to choke on a piece of plastic or rubber than a creepy crawlie As long as they are hidden from view when I eat my food I don’t mind,

Just for the record I once lived on a farm for a couple of years and had regular visits from little creatures who used to come in and eat the remainder of the cats food when the cat was having its catnap.

It’s really amazing Beryl what is the best things to choke you
Pieces of plastic or rubber should with a little luck slide on their way as such
Anything too large to swallow will undoubtedly be expelled from the mouth rather than attempt swallowing
Often it is liquid is choked on so much of what we think about choking is a little misleading

I liked your cat story. . .The cat was too well fed I’d guess a bit like ours

Buzzzzzz: Tesco shopper ‘nearly swallows bee’ after making shocking discovery in punnet of supermarket raspberries


There is the possibility that the bee arrived in the raspberries after purchase. As Sean Lu explained above, there are people that deliberately put foreign objects in food, presumably to obtain compensation or publicity.

Meat and packaged soft fruit are often sold in ‘modified atmosphere packaging’, where the oxygen has been replaced by nitrogen to improve the shelf life. That’s why packaged meat stays bright red, but browns soon after the package is open and oxygen comes in contact with the meat. With this type of packaging, any stray insects would bee dead by the time the packet was opened.

Yuk! That’d really freak me out if I found a live bee in my raspberries, @patrick ! Can’t stand them, or wasps! 🐝🐝🐝