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Scientific Committee Meeting - 25 September 2023


Members Present
    Martin Cormican (Chair) (MC)
    Alan Kelly (AK)
    Anne Molloy (AM)
    Dagmar Stengel (DS)
    Dolores O’Riordan (DOR)
    Geraldine Duffy (GD)
    Ita Kinahan (IK)
    Kevin Cashman (KC)
    Lois O’Connor (LOC)
    Mark Fenelon (MF)
    Montserrat Gutierrez (MG)
    Séamus Fanning (SF)

FSAI Staff Present
    Wayne Anderson (WA)
    Pat O’Mahony (POM)
    Lisa O’Connor (LiOC)
    Emer O’Reilly (EOR)
    Micheál O’Mahony (MOM)
    Rob Phillips (RP)
    Cormac McElhinney (CMcE)
    Chloe Glennon (CG)
    Judith Giles (JG)
    Andrew Flanagan (AF)
    Ann Marie Part (AMP)
    Martin Wilkinson (MW)

1.    Disclosures of Interest

The Chair welcomed the members to the meeting, in particular new member Dr Lois O’Connor who was attending her first meeting. There were no disclosures of interest.

2.    Matters Arising from the Meeting Minutes of 22 May 2023

The actions from the last meeting were completed except for one on Food Hygiene Rating Systems (see agenda item 4).

WA updated the subcommittee on the Cannabis edibles work. A legal opinion from the Department of Health confirmed that these products are not considered food. Therefore, they do not come under the remit of the FSAI and the request for advice will be withdrawn.

•    POM to write to the subcommittee to inform them that the RfA has been withdrawn.

3.    Rules of Procedure, Code of Conduct and Confidentiality Agreement

WA explained that the FSAI and the Board have reviewed the Rules of Procedure and some updates relating to governance have been made with respect to declarations of interest and confidentiality. A code of conduct has also been drawn up for members.

•    JG to circulate the documents to the Scientific Committee for information.
•    WA to write to the subcommittee and working group members to inform them of the updates and send out the documents.

4.    Ad hoc Subcommittee on Food Hygiene Rating Systems

As yet, no member of the Scientific Committee has indicated that they have the capacity to undertake chairing of this Subcommittee. It was discussed that the chair of a subcommittee does not need to be a subject matter expert but must be a member of the Scientific Committee. The members were invited to give this further consideration.
•    Members who may have capacity to undertake the role of chair are invited to contact WA/MC before 6 October.

5.    Draft Report: The suitability of analytical methods for food authenticity use

This document was circulated to the Scientific Committee at this early stage by the subcommittee for high level comments on its approach and main content prior to completion of the draft advice. MC thanked IK and the subcommittee for preparing the first draft of the report. IK gave a general outline of the contents of the report. The following was noted:
•    The body of the document is high level, and more details can be found in the appendices. There is some repetition in the report, and it could be more consistent and cohesive. 
•    The report is quite technical in some sections. It should aim to be as accessible as possible, recognising that some of the content is very complex.
•    This document will be used by FSAI staff who may not be experts in all areas. The document should support them in identifying key issues and asking appropriate questions when assessing suitability of a method. It should assist them in identifying what is reasonable to expect if they are reviewing or commissioning laboratory work. The document may also be important as independent scientific advice in the event of legal action or challenge related to risk management decisions based on such methods. 
•    The draft text of answers to the questions posed in the RfA was discussed and some of the wording was amended.
•    There is a preference to refer to the requirement for laboratories to have a management system in place rather than a quality management system, reflecting newer ISO standards.
•    The Official Controls Regulation (OCR) allows for non-standard methods to be used in some circumstances.
•    The availability of data on methods was discussed.
•    The subcommittee need to give further consideration to sampling plans, alignment to that required in official control, replicate tests, aliquots, reproducibility and related issues.
•    Some members have offered to help with some of the sections in the report.
•    It was agreed to save the report on OneDrive so the members can add further comments in as they review the document.

•    JG to add the report to OneDrive and members to add any further comments to the report within the next week.
•    IK/CMcE to contact the members who offered their help with the report.

6.    Update from PHN Subcommittee

KC noted that the WG met on 11 July to discuss the definitions of adolescents and subgroups of adolescents, and the definition of sustainable diets. Text has been drafted on these. An in-person meeting of the PHN Subcommittee and WG members is scheduled on 2 October to review the definitions and for FSAI staff to present on the proposed modelling approaches to be taken for the work.

7.    Update from Chemical Safety Subcommittee

EOR confirmed that the Dioxins and PCBs Working Group (WG) met on 21 June and the Chemical Safety Subcommittee met on 7 September. The draft report addresses a number of the questions in the RfA. However, it is likely that the subcommittee will not be able to quantify the risk to the food chain in relation to production methods as the data available is not good enough, except for eggs. The 2018 EFSA Opinion with information on dietary exposure for the EU population using the various consumption surveys has been referenced in the draft report. A new section on monitoring data from 2015-2021 has also been included. The information on the production methods is still outstanding from DAFM. It was agreed that at this point it appears preferable to accept that DAFM will not be in a position to provide this in a time frame that will support the progress of this report. DOR offered to contact colleagues in UCD to see if they may have capacity to provide some content on this subject for the report. A template can be provided to them to complete. EOR noted that a preliminary draft of the report may be ready for the December meeting. 
The Subcommittee also discussed the new RfA on the Total Diet Study parameters and Biomarkers at their meeting. Some members have volunteered to join a WG, and members of the PHN Subcommittee have also been contacted to join. There will be two meetings. A Chair has still to be confirmed. The deadline is the end of November. WA noted that procurement for laboratory services will need to take place before the end of the year, therefore the request for tender will incorporate a provision for the list of parameters to be amended. The Scientific Committee plans to review the list of food categories and parameters in December, although it was acknowledged that in order to adhere to procurement timetable it may be necessary for the FSAI to proceed on the basis of the draft advice in advance of the Scientific Committee meeting.

•    DOR to contact colleagues to see if they can assist with the dioxins work.
•    EOR to provide DOR with information/a template on what is needed.

8.    Update from Biological Safety Subcommittee

GD confirmed the Biological Safety Subcommittee met on 22 September and, with two new FSAI staff members assisting, have agreed a way forward. Of the seven hazards chosen, there is incidence data available for four. Hepatitis E and Norovirus are not in the BCoDE, but it may be possible to use @ModelRisk to calculate the DALY for these. Data for Toxoplasma gondii is limited – there is some old seroprevalence data available, but the data is very limited other than for those under one-year old. The subcommittee has decided to leave out this hazard from the risk ranking exercise. It is planned to work on the underestimation factors (UE), complete the DALY calculations, finalise the materials and recontact the expert elicitation group in Q4. WA said that it is important to note data gaps in the report for future research needs.
The new RfA on Hepatitis E was also discussed by the subcommittee and members have been asked either to volunteer or submit nominees for a WG. Helen O’Shea, MTU, has agreed to chair the WG and MOM will act as the technical secretariat for the group. The deadline for this work is 18 months after the work is initiated.

9.    Correspondence

There was no correspondence received.

10.    AOB

There was no other business discussed.

11.    Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be an in-person meeting in FSAI offices on 11 December. The Chair thanked the members for their attendance.

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