The Food Standards Agency has reported a 14% year-on-year increase in food-related incidents.
A total of 1,714 incidents were reported in 2011,up from 1,505 in 2010 and 1,208 in 2009.
The FSA said there was no single reason as to why the figures had increased, but that a combination of factors – including better monitoring and reporting – was behind the rise.
For example, a salmonella scare related to paan leaves last year – which lead to 79 incidents being reported – contributed to the increase, the FSA said, while increased import tests on okra had boosted the number of pesticide incidents reported from 55 in 2010 to 102 in 2011.
There was also a marked increase in whistleblowing cases – up from 18 cases in 2010 to 54 cases in 2011.
Overall, environmental incidents accounted for 21% of all incidents reported in 2011, while natural chemical contamination and microbiological contamination accounted for 17% and 16%, respectively.
There were seven high-level incidents, including the Fukushima nuclear emergency and the E.coli outbreak in Germany, which was later linked to fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt.
FSA chief executive Tim Smith said investigating food incidents was a key part of keeping consumers safe. “When such incidents do occur, the food industry, the FSA, other government agencies, and enforcement officers locally, work quickly to isolate any risks and remove affected products from our shelves. I hope that this report gives consumers confidence that our systems are working and working well.”