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Scientific Committee Meeting - 8 December 2021

Members Present

  • Martin Cormican (Chair) (MC)
  • Alan Kelly (AK)
  • Andrew Flanagan (AF)
  • 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)
  • Emer O’Reilly (EOR)
  • Pat O’Mahony (POM)
  • Cormac McElhinney (CMcE)
  • Cristina Arroyo-Casabona (CAC)
  • Oonagh Lyons (OL)
  • Judith Giles (JG)


  • Ann Marie Part (AMP)

WA passed on the thanks of CEO Pamela Byrne to the members for their work this year and her best wishes for a happy Christmas.

1. Disclosures of Interest

There were disclosures of interest from KC regarding his participation in an EFSA expert hearing session and his membership of an NGO; from AM regarding her participation in an EFSA group; and AF regarding a legal challenge to HSE official controls, however none were deemed a conflict of interest with the work of the Scientific Committee. 

2. Matters Arising from the Meeting Minutes of 18 October

There were no matters arising. All actions from the last meeting were completed or were on the agenda for discussion.

3. Membership of the Ah hoc Subcommittee on Cannabis Edibles

AF outlined the proposed membership of this subcommittee, which includes two members of the Scientific Committee. The list includes people from a broad range of disciplines including medicine and pharmacology. POM also provided some context for the request for advice. The proposed list was agreed.


  • POM/AF to finalise the membership of the subcommittee and send to JG.
  • JG to circulate the final list to members for information.
  • POM/AF to arrange a meeting of the ad hoc subcommittee to progress this work. 

4. Updated Request for Advice: The effectiveness of analytical methods for food authenticity use

IK noted the RfA was updated to provide more clarity on its scope and the questions to be addressed. The advice produced will provide guidance for the FSAI, Public Analyst Laboratories (PALs) and food business operators (FBOs) on the minimum standards expected for new analytical methods to establish food authenticity. Authenticity includes being able to justify a claim where one is made. The advice will include core criteria, additional criteria for certain methods and some examples. Members discussed the importance of a sound statistical sampling plan in addition to a suitable analytical method, but it was agreed that sampling would not be added to the scope of the RfA. The word ‘effectiveness’ was amended to ‘suitability’ in the title. The RfA was accepted by the committee.

5. Membership of the Ad hoc Subcommittee on Analytical Methods

Four members of the Scientific Committee put forward their names for this subcommittee. There were some suggestions for representation from the PAL, INAB, Teagasc and FSAI. Members were asked to send suggestions to JG.


  • Members to send suggestions on membership to JG.
  • POM/IK to work on the membership of the subcommittee and send to JG.
  • JG to circulate the proposed list for electronic sign off.
  • JG to circulate the final RfA to members for information.
  • POM/IK to arrange a meeting of the ad hoc subcommittee to progress this work.

6. Request for Advice: Mitigation Measures for Dioxins and PCBs in Organic and Extensively Reared Farm Animals

EOR introduced this RfA noting that dioxins and PCBs are toxic chemicals that can have adverse health effects. Human exposure comes mainly from consumption of contaminated food. Maximum levels (MLs) for both have been set in legislation, with separate legislation applying to animal feed. Although well-known dioxin/PCB incidents have involved contaminated feed used on farms, recent FSAI surveillance has shown some exceedances of MLs in organic and outdoor farmed terrestrial animals which appear to be linked to environmental contamination. The organic farming sector is expected to grow in the future and this advice will help facilitate this whilst protecting public health. WA added that this work will provide guidance to Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) inspectors who are asked to advise farmers on how to reduce the risk and continue farming.

The Chair noted that it is important to state why this work is being done for this particular sector. It was agreed to adjust the last paragraph of the RfA to clarify this. It was noted that the scope is limited to terrestrial animals including chickens. MOM said it was important to be clear about what is meant by ‘extensive’. IK referred to data available from Teagasc soil surveys and EPA monitoring of milk dioxins that may be relevant to the work of the group.

The Scientific Committee was supportive of this work being carried out. The RfA requires amendment following the discussions. It was agreed that this will be updated and circulated for electronic sign off. It was noted that it would be helpful to have a representative from Teagasc involved in this work. If a working group is established under the Chemical Safety Subcommittee, additional external members, including Teagasc organic experts, can be added to help draft the advice.


  • EOR/AF to amend the RfA and send to JG.
  • JG to circulate the RfA to members for electronic sign off.
  • EOR/AF to arrange a meeting of the Chemical Safety Subcommittee to progress this work. 

7. Meeting Dates for Subcommittees

GD noted that the membership of the Biological Safety Subcommittee has been agreed with 16 members, including a public health representative. The group will hold their first meeting on 21 January.

KC confirmed the membership of the Public Health Nutrition Subcommittee has been agreed with 17 members, including a medical doctor. The first meeting is scheduled on 14 December.

AF noted that the membership of the Chemical Safety Subcommittee has been agreed with 16 members. He will aim to hold the first meeting of the subcommittee in January.

8. Correspondence

There was no correspondence received.

9. AOB

There was no other business discussed. 

10. Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Scientific Committee will be scheduled around March 2022. The Chair thanked everyone for their contributions and wished them a very Happy Christmas.


  • JG to confirm the date of the next meeting.