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Scientific Committee Meeting - 15 September 2022

Thursday, 15 September 2022 @ 10.30am in the FSAI (The Market 1)

Members Present

  • Martin Cormican (Chair) (MC)
  • Andrew Flanagan (AF)
  • Ann Marie Part (AMP)
  • Anne Molloy (AM)
  • Geraldine Duffy (GD)
  • Kevin Cashman (KC)
  • Micheál O’Mahony (MOM)
  • Séamus Fanning (SF)

FSAI Staff Present

  • Wayne Anderson (WA)
  • Emer O’Reilly (EOR)
  • Lisa O’Connor (LOC)
  • Pat O’Mahony (POM)
  • Mary Flynn (MFl)
  • Oonagh Lyons (OL)
  • Judith Giles (JG)


  • Alan Kelly (AK)
  • Dagmar Stengel (DS)
  • Dolores O’Riordan (DOR)
  • Ita Kinahan (IK)
  • Mark Fenelon (MF)
  • Martin Wilkinson (MW)
  • Montserrat Gutierrez (MG)
  • Rob Phillips (RP)

1. Disclosures of Interest

The Chair welcomed the members to the first in-person meeting of the Scientific Committee. There were no previously undisclosed disclosures of interest.

2. Matters Arising from the Meeting Minutes of 24 May

All actions from the last meeting were completed or are on the agenda of the meeting.

3. Draft Advice: Scientific recommendations on vitamin D nutrition for the population aged between 5 and 65 years in Ireland

KC reviewed all the changes which were made to the draft report since the last meeting for consideration by the Committee. In some sections editorial changes were made and the text was updated to ensure a consistent use of terms throughout the report. In Section 2 new text was added to address issues considered at the last meeting. In Section 3 the recommendations were updated and framed for consideration by the Department of Health (DoH). In the Executive Summary the three WHO/FAO strategies to be considered to address inadequate intakes of micronutrients were included; and the recommendations were updated. KC thanked the Chair, MFl, OL, the PHN Subcommittee and the WG for all their advice and assistance in updating the draft report.

The draft report was discussed. There is a wealth of data available on current levels of vitamin D in the population, including seasonal data. Some text on mandatory fortification was clarified. A footnote was added to the request for advice (RfA) to explain the updated report title. The report was then adopted by the Scientific Committee. The Chair thanked KC and the PHN Subcommittee for completing this work.
WA explained that the report will be circulated to the committee after the meeting and a stand still period of one week will apply for reflection. If any additional views or issues are raised during this period, the Chair will decide on the status of the advice. Once agreed, the report will be sent to the Board with a request to publish it.


  • JG to circulate the Vitamin D report to the members.

4. Update from PHN Subcommittee

KC noted that the focus has been on finalising the Vitamin D report. A request for advice on food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) for adolescents will be submitted for agreement at the next meeting. This will be done in consultation with the DoH.


  • KC/MFl to submit a RfA on FBDG for adolescents for the next meeting.

5. Update from Biological Safety Subcommittee

The BS Subcommittee met in July.


The revised RfA was circulated before the meeting. LOC outlined the updates that were made in consultation with the Chair of the Scientific Committee: the FAO/WHO definition of probiotics is being used; the food supplements notifications system is not an approval or authorisation process; and the safety of probiotic ingredients is the focus of this work. The committee agreed to delete one sentence relating to underlying factors which is not essential to the RfA. It is hoped to have a draft report for the next Scientific Committee meeting.


  • JG to circulate the final RfA.

Risk Ranking of Microbial Hazards

GD gave a detailed presentation on the risk ranking project and the work done to date. It was noted the output is dependent on how good the available data is. A group of seven organisms (bacteria, viruses and parasites) has been selected. Data for two hazards is still being sought. It was agreed that the subcommittee be pragmatic about the work and that, if sufficient data is not available, it would be better to proceed with the exercise for a more limited number of organisms rather than delay the project because of gaps with respect to one or two organisms. It was noted that, for ages older than 85 years, it is important to have an estimate of life-expectancy as this is not included in the current table. GD noted that as part of the calculation of the burden of total illness using the BCoDe Toolkit, an underestimation factor must be identified. Where necessary this will be based on best available and most current data for other countries extrapolated for Ireland. It was noted that there are no models in the BCoDe for two of the hazards, but a model with similar symptoms could be adapted for these.
Expert opinion using the DELPHI approach will be used to estimate the burden of total illness attributed to food. Ten experts have been chosen and it was suggested that an Environmental Health Officer perspective would be valuable if not already included.


  • JG to circulate the presentation.
  • GD/LOC to follow up on Environmental Health Officer perspective with AMP.

6. Update from Chemical Safety Subcommittee

AF confirmed the Dioxins and PCBs Working Group held its first meeting in July, noting that there is broad expertise from chemistry to agronomy on the WG. MOM, Chair of the WG, noted that a colleague from Wageningen University & Research gave a presentation on the management of dioxins in the food chain at the meeting. A literature review will be carried out and an expert has been contracted to do the work, which will be completed by January.

7. Update from Analytical Methods Ad hoc Subcommittee

POM said that three subgroups are being formed within the subcommittee to discuss: (1) chromatographic techniques; (2) -omics; and (3) stable isotope analysis. There may be some crossover between (1) and (2). It was noted that if sequencing is included, data analysis and interpretation of results are an important element of using sequence data. The robustness of reference libraries used in analysis of sequences is also important. The next meeting of the subcommittee will be in October.

8. Correspondence

There was no correspondence received.

9. AOB

It was noted that the Scientific Committee will be a standing item on the agenda of FSAI Board meetings.

10. Date of Next Meeting

The Chair thanked everyone for their attendance and participation. The Chair proposed a virtual meeting in December.


  • JG to confirm the date of the next meeting.