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Scientific Committee Meeting - 7 July 2021

Wednesday, 7 July 2021 @ 10.30am

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)
  • Mark Fenelon (MF)
  • Martin Wilkinson (MW)
  • Micheál O’Mahony (MOM)
  • Montserrat Gutierrez (MG)
  • Séamus Fanning (SF)

FSAI Staff Present: 

  • Wayne Anderson (WA)
  • Pamela Byrne (PB)
  • Lisa O’Connor (LOC)
  • Pat O’Mahony (POM)
  • Oonagh Lyons (OL)
  • Tim Camon (TC)
  • Judith Giles (JG)


  • John Matthews (JM)
  • Mary Flynn (MFL)

1. Welcome and Introductions:

Martin Cormican, Chair, welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the Scientific Committee for the term 2021-2025. He said it was an honour for him to be Chair of the committee. He remarked that it is important for the committee to be able to clearly explain the scientific advice it provides and communicate it to others. Introductions were made by members and FSAI staff.

2. Presentations

Pamela Byrne, CEO, welcomed the new committee members and said that it is important for FSAI to have access to the best science available in order to develop opinions and advance food safety. Collaboration with other organisations is also important for FSAI to deliver on its mission to protect consumers.

The following introductory presentations were given by FSAI staff outlining the work carried out by the Authority:

  • Overview of FSAI (Pamela Byrne)
  • Review of Past Scientific Committees’ Work (Wayne Anderson)
  • Food Science & Technology (Pat O’Mahony)
  • Veterinary Public Health & Agriculture (Tim Camon)
  • Public Health Nutrition (Oonagh Lyons)
  • Biological Safety (Lisa O’Connor).


3. Rules of Procedure

Wayne Anderson, Technical Secretariat, gave an overview of how the Scientific Committee is organised and its Rules of Procedure. The FSAI Act says the Scientific Committee shall advise the Board on matters referred to it by the Board and specifically matters relating to:

  • Scientific and technical questions relating to food safety and hygiene;
  • The implementation and administration of food inspection services, and;
  • The nutritional value or content of food.

Members of the committee are appointed in their individual capacities by the Minister of Health. The FSAI Act requires the committee to adopt rules and procedures for the conduct of its meetings and activities and to submit these to the Board for approval. The FSAI Executive provides a support role to the committee. WA noted that members must complete a declaration of interests’ form and sign a confidentiality agreement. A code of conduct will be circulated shortly to members.

Draft advice is received from subcommittees for discussion and adoption by the Scientific Committee. MC said that it would be helpful for subcommittees to liaise with the Scientific Committee and Chair as draft advice is being prepared. It is also important for members to interrogate and challenge draft advice that is outside their own area of expertise so that all members of the committee are satisfied that there is a sound basis for the advice provided.

AF noted that he agreed in principle with the confidentiality agreement but some of the phraseology is more relevant to FSAI employees and could be reviewed. MOM suggested that some points in the rules of procedure could be clarified.


  • AF to send comments on the Confidentiality Agreement to JG by 23 July.
  • MOM/Members to send comments on the Rules of Procedure to JG by 23 July.

4. Draft Work Plan

WA explained that the draft work plan was compiled from suggestions from FSAI staff and has been reviewed by the Board and the Department of Health. He went through the list noting that the Risk Ranking of Microbiological Hazards work, which was started by the last Scientific Committee, has been carried over to this term. The work plan is a live document and will be reviewed regularly - projects can be added, removed or re-prioritised by the committee.

MC asked all members for their views on the draft plan. Overall there was broad support for the plan, though it is quite ambitious. Some suggestions and comments were made and noted. The committee could include or keep a watching brief on the following topics: aquatic product safety; microplastics; pesticides; chemical hazards from land application of treated sewage; Toxoplasma gondii; zoonotic disease; Clostridium difficile and the role of food; antimicrobial resistance; Campylobacter; iodised salt policy; probiotics and postbiotics; Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) linking to the viability of organisms; raw milk; labelling; regulatory divergence following Brexit. Some project titles also need to be reviewed.

WA explained that regulatory matters as a result of Brexit is a risk management activity that FSAI is already undertaking and is outside the scope of the committee.


  • Members to send comments/suggestions on the Work Plan to JG by Fri 23 July.
  • WA to follow up on comments on the Work Plan with individual members, as necessary.

5. Subcommittees and Chairs

MC suggested that, given the workplan, the committee should set up three standing subcommittees for the term: (1) Biological Safety Subcommittee, (2) Chemical Safety Subcommittee and (3) Public Health Nutrition (PHN) Subcommittee. Three members of the Scientific Committee agreed to chair these subcommittees, and this was welcomed by the meeting:

  • Biological Safety – Geraldine Duffy
  • Chemical Safety – Andrew Flanagan
  • Public Health Nutrition – Kevin Cashman

MC/WA thanked the three members for agreeing to take on these roles. WA noted that the Chief Specialists in these areas will provide the technical secretariat for these subcommittees. There will be a delay in setting up the Chemical Safety and PHN Subcommittees until Q4, due to the unavailability of the Chief Specialists in these areas.

The terms of reference for the three subcommittees were discussed. MOM requested clarification on whether biogenic amines fall under biological or chemical safety and it was agreed they will come under the biological safety remit.

Ad hoc subcommittees will be set up later to progress other projects on the Work Plan and Chairs will be sought for these at that time.


  • LOC/GD to work on a list of potential members for the Biological Safety Subcommittee by end September for agreement and appointment by the Scientific Committee at its next meeting.
  • Members to let JG know if they can contribute to one or more standing subcommittee by 23 July.
  • WA/LOC/GD/MOM to revise the wording in the BS Subcommittee Terms of Reference regarding biogenic amines.
  • Members/Chairs to send on comments on the terms of reference to JG by 23 July.

6. Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Scientific Committee will be scheduled in October. The Chair thanked everyone for their participation in the meeting. 


  • JG to circulate a doodle poll of dates in October.