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Scientific Committee Meeting - 22 February 2023

Wednesday, 22 February 2023 @ 10.30am (online)

Members Present

  • Martin Cormican (Chair) (MC)
  • Alan Kelly (AK)
  • Andrew Flanagan (AF)
  • Ann Marie Part (AMP)
  • Anne Molloy (AM)
  • Dagmar Stengel (DS)
  • Dolores O’Riordan (DOR)
  • Geraldine Duffy (GD)
  • Ita Kinahan (IK)
  • Kevin Cashman (KC)
  • Montserrat Gutierrez (MG)


  • Mary O’Connell Motherway (MOCM)

FSAI Staff Present

  • Wayne Anderson (WA)
  • Lisa O’Connor (LOC)
  • Pat O’Mahony (POM)
  • Emer O’Reilly (EOR)
  • Micheál O’Mahony (MOM)
  • Rob Phillips (RP)
  • Mary Flynn (MFl)
  • Judith Giles (JG)


  • Mark Fenelon (MF)
  • Martin Wilkinson (MW)
  • Séamus Fanning (SF)

1. Disclosures of Interest

The Chair welcomed the members to the meeting. There were no disclosures of interest.

2. Matters Arising from the Meeting Minutes of 19 December

The actions from the last meeting were completed, with the exception of the scheduling of meetings for Q3 and Q4. The Chair informed the Committee that he had updated the Board on his discussion with the Scientific Committee at the December meeting.
The minutes noted that, with respect to the discussion on the probiotic supplement document, advice on storage of probiotic food supplements for manufacturers should be included in the report.

The report ‘Vitamin D – Scientific Recommendations for 5-65 Year Olds Living in Ireland’ was published recently, and KC and the PHN Subcommittee were thanked for their work on this. It is the first output from the current Scientific Committee. The report got some media coverage and was well received.

3. Update from Biological Safety Subcommittee

Risk Ranking of Microbial Hazards

GD advised that progress on the risk ranking work has slowed due to staff changes in FSAI, but there is a plan in place for the work to continue and new staff may be able to assist.

Draft Advice:Assessment of the safety of probiotics in food supplements

The Chair explained that the aim of this meeting is to get sign off from the committee on the substantive issues in the draft report. Final editorial changes can then be made, and a clean version circulated for electronic sign off on or as soon as possible after 6 March. Members will have a week to review, send on any final comments or to indicate any concerns or reservations regarding adoption of the report. If there are no concerns or reservations the document will be accepted as approved at that point. This approach was agreed by the Committee.

MOCM thanked MC, GD, SF, POM and WA for their comments which were incorporated into the draft report. The report was discussed, and the following points were noted:

  • The notification system for food supplements (FS) is different in member states. FS are required to be notified to the FSAI in Ireland but this is not an authorisation process.
  • The recommendations section will be taken out of the Executive Summary as the answers to the questions are now included. The recommendation on labelling will remain.
  • The scope of the report should be clear throughout with reference to ‘food supplement producers’ to be specific; the use of the word ‘ingredients’ should also be reviewed for clarity.
  • The definition of probiotics and the explanation of the use of the term should be included as a footnote in the Executive Summary.
  • Antimicrobial resistance was discussed in particular the issue of transferrable as distinct from non-transferrable antimicrobial resistance. It was agreed to reflect the discussion in the revised text.
  • Microorganisms included in FS do not undergo a safety assessment by EFSA. There is no advice at EU level on this with the exception of guidance relating to animal feed. Enterococcus faecium and Enterococcus faecalis (indicators of faecal contamination in water microbiology) are used in some FS. It was agreed to include some specific advice on these organisms. Their presence in the FS should be indicated on the product label. It was agreed that the report should be useful as a source of information and guidance to practitioners, pharmacists, and trade associations who may consider recommending or selling such supplement.
  • An EFSA statement on the requirements for whole genome sequence analysis for microorganisms used in the food chain has been included in the report.
  • EFSA’s guidance on assessment of bacterial susceptibility to antimicrobials of human and veterinary important does not contain all antimicrobials of current clinical importance on its list. A useful source of break points could be included here and in the appendix.

The substantive issues in the report were agreed and the report adopted in principle. The report will now be finalised, and a clean version circulated for electronic sign off on or as soon as possible after 6 March. The Chair thanked MOCM, LOC and GD for their work.


  • MOCM/LOC/GD/MC to finalise the draft Probiotics report for circulation.
  • Members to send final comments to JG within 7 days of circulation and indicate if they agree to adopt the report.

4. Update from PHN Subcommittee

KC said that the PHN Subcommittee met on 25 January. The request for advice on food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) for adolescents was considered. A draft work plan of actions and outcomes with timelines for the 30-month project was broadly agreed. KC will provide a detailed update to the Scientific Committee at the mid-way point of the project. The next meeting of the PHN Subcommittee will take place in April.

5. Update from Chemical Safety Subcommittee

AF confirmed that the literature review on dioxins and PCBs was completed in January and a report was received from the external expert. A meeting of the WG is being arranged for March where the expert will present the literature review and a presentation will be given on organics.

6. Update from Analytical Methods Ad hoc Subcommittee

IK noted that the two subgroups of the subcommittee on (1) chromatographic techniques and (2) -omics met in January and the subcommittee met on 21 February. There is good progress being made in gathering information on the various analytical methods and this should be completed by May. After this the structure and presentation of the report will be reviewed to ensure that the questions in the RfA are answered. The subcommittee aim to submit a final draft to the Scientific Committee in December. It was agreed that IK would send a draft of the report to MC in September for an initial discussion. The next meeting will be scheduled in April.

7. Work Plan Review

WA outlined the updates made to the work plan. These included the prioritisation of the ‘Hepatitis E virus in Pigs’ and ‘Salmonellosis from Salmonella Typhimurium’ work. It was noted that a UK ACMSF report is due out soon on Clostridium botulinum which will be considered in relation to the work plan. It is also expected that the projects on the ‘Total Diet Study’ and ‘Food service hygiene rating schemes’ will be started later this year. The updates were agreed by the committee and the work plan will be updated on the website.


  • JG to update the work plan on the website.

8. Correspondence

There was no correspondence received.

9. AOB

Update required for Scientific Committee report ‘The Safety of Vitamins and Minerals in Food Supplements’

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have been tasked by the European Commission (EC) to review the scientific opinions of the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) or the EFSA Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) Panel on the tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for 9 nutrients (vitamin A, folic acid/folate, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B6, selenium, iron, manganese and β-carotene) to take into account recent scientific developments and evidence. EFSA have published their scientific opinion on the UL for selenium and their draft opinion on the UL for vitamin B6. The deadline for the completion of this work by EFSA (all 9 nutrients) is 1st March 2023. This work by EFSA will require an update to the FSAI Scientific Committee report ‘The Safety of Vitamins and Minerals in Food Supplement’ which quotes these ULs. The purpose of this report was to provide scientific advice to the FSAI for assessing the safety of vitamins and minerals in food supplements in Ireland and for the development of appropriate guidance for the food industry. This work will be undertaken by FSAI staff and presented to the Scientific Committee for consideration.

10. Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held in person in FSAI offices on 22 May. The Chair thanked the members for their participation.


  • JG to confirm the dates of the meetings for Q3 and Q4.