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FSAI Board Meeting Minutes 16th May 2023


  • Ms. Ann Horan (AH) (Interim Chair)
  • Mr Patrick Knight (PK) 
  • Ms Mary Cullen (MC) 
  • Prof Martin Cormican (P. MC) 
  • Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan (CFN) (from Item 4)
  • Mr Gerard McCurdy (GMcC)
  • Prof Francis Butler (FB)  (until Item 7.2)
  • Ms Lisa Manselli (LM)
  • Ms Eilis O’Brien (EOB)

In attendance:     

  • Dr Pamela Byrne (PB), Chief Executive 
  • Mr Kevin Roantree (KR), Board Secretary
  • Mr Bernard Hegarty (BH), for Item 6.2
  • Mr Brendan Lenihan (BL), for Item 7.1
  • Ms Mary McGuire (MMcG), for Item 7.2
  • Ms Brid Curran (BC), for Item 7.2
  • Mr Fiachra McGuire (FMcG), for Item 7.2          

Apologies: None

The Interim Chair, Ms Ann Horan, opened the meeting by welcoming all present and giving an overview of the agenda and the key priorities for the meeting.  

1. Disclosure of Interests 

There were no disclosures of interest.

2. Minutes of the last meeting: 28th March 2023 

The Board requested two amendments including (1) to specify that the potential conflicts of interest related to applications for research funding and (2) to capture the Board’s view, in section 6.3, that it was important to ensure that the identified actions be completed as soon as possible to ensure the continuity, and quality of LAVS services.

3. Matters Arising 

There were 3 updates on actions from previous meetings:

  • Action 9.  PB apologised for not circulating the revised Business Plan Executive Summary, which reflected Board discussions to AH and PK.   She will do so following this meeting.
  • Action 12 had also not been completed and it was agreed that MC and KR would liaise to close this action. 
  • It was clarified that the ROR, being presented to the Board in June, would reflect changes proposed by Board members.

4. CEO Report

It was agreed that the CEO Report should be taken as read and Board members were invited to raise queries or seek clarifications. 

The Board raised a number of queries/comments and discussions were had on the following matters:

  • The Board congratulated the team in the FSAI on the recent successful hosting of the International Heads of Food Agencies Forum.  This was seen as a significant international event and the Chair requested that the Chief Executive pass on their thanks to all involved.  It was great to see the FSAI taking a leading role in a large and prestigious international event.
  • The Board queried the status of the 2023 Business Plan. PB clarified that the business plan had been sent to, and discussed with, the DoH Food Unit, that at the end of Q1 all deliverables were on schedule to be delivered (RAG: Green) and that the Q2 Progress report would be circulated to the Board in advance of its meeting on 27th June.
  • The Board discussed the Department of Health’s planned Periodic Critical Review of the FSAI. This is an important strategic event for the FSAI  and the Board reiterated its view that it would be essential that a Board member be included on the Steering Committee along with the Chief Executive.    PB advised that the IPA has been engaged to assist the Department in undertaking the review.   It was agreed that the PCR should present an opportunity to review the legal context and external environment in which the FSAI operates and that it was vital that any change in legal remit, or expansion of current needs should be accompanied by appropriate increase in resources. It was agreed that the development of the new FSAI strategic plan and the PCR should be aligned. The PCR will be on the agenda for the Board meeting in June.  In the meantime, the Chief Executive will keep the Chair appraised of any developments. 
  • The Secretary advised that the planned update on the Strategic Plan is scheduled for the meeting on 27th June.  It is intended that an external strategy adviser will have been appointed at that stage and that they will be available to attend the Board meeting, if appropriate.
  • The Board acknowledged the work carried out by the FSAI in providing services to citizens through the Irish language, aligned to the Official Languages Act.
  • It was requested that the planned Blended Working Evaluation should also address the measurement and monitoring of individual, team and functional area performance.

5. Enforcement Orders

The list of recent Enforcement Orders was noted by Board members.

6. Board Updates

6.1    Scientific Committee Report – Safety of Probiotics in Food Supplements

The Chair invited Professor Cormican to present this report on behalf of the Scientific Committee.

P.MC reminded members that they were being asked to approve the report for publication in accordance with the FSAI Act 1998.  He proposed that the report be taken as read.  He highlighted the key questions which the Committee had been asked to address and confirmed his satisfaction with the methodology and conclusions of the Committee.  It was queried as to the approach to publishing the report and as to whether it would challenge the findings of other institutions, given that there is ongoing debate in the scientific community regarding the efficacy and safety of probiotics. It was clarified that the report did not address efficacy. It was agreed that it was important that any statement in the press release should be clearly supported by the findings in the report. It agreed that PB would circulate the press release for information. The Board indicated that they were happy to approve the publication of the report. 

Action: PB to circulate to the Board, for info, the SC Report press release.

Mr Bernard Hegarty (BH) joined the meeting.

6.2    LAVS

The Chair updated the Board on her discussions held with the Executive on LAVS since the last Board meeting. She emphasised that this is an important issue for the FSAI and that they should take sufficient time at this meeting to understand the issues and the proposed course of action being proposed by the Executive.

BH presented an overview on LAVS including more recent developments and discussions with stakeholders and outlined the key areas of focus for the FSAI for the remainder of 2023.  It was agreed that as it appeared that the transfer of the LAVs service to DAFM was unlikely to take place this year, the focus should be on improving the current service and agreeing a new 3-year contract with the Local Authorities by year end.  While the transfer of the service to DAFM remains the preferred option, this depends on agreement between all stakeholders involved. 

The Board noted the concerns regarding the short-term extensions of the LA service contract in recent years and the vacancies in the service and agreed on the critical need to ensure an effective and efficient service was provided in any future service contracts. The Board supported the Executive’s proposed approach to the new contract and requested a further update for the next meeting.  The Chief Executive confirmed that she was keeping her contact in the Department of Health appraised of the situation regarding LAVs.

Mr Bernard Hegarty (BH) left the meeting.

The Board had a short break.

Mr Brendan Lenihan (BL) joined the meeting.

7. Board Presentations

7.1 Board Effectiveness

BL presented the Board Effectiveness Report to the Board and provided an overview of the recommendations it contained. The Board discussed with BL the difference between a regulatory Board and other public sector Boards, the need for the Board to ‘speak as one voice’ in areas of oversight and direction to the Executive and the need for clarity as to the respective roles of the Board and Executive. It was agreed that the report would be reviewed further and a proposed action plan would be brought back to the Board for discussion.

Action: Revert to the Board with Draft Action Plan aligned to the findings of the Effectiveness Report.

Mr Brendan Lenihan (BL) left the meeting 
Prof Francis Butler (FB) left the meeting
Ms Mary McGuire (MMcG) joined the meeting
Ms Brid Curran (BC) joined the meeting
Mr Fiachra McGuire (FMcG) joined the meeting

7.2 Staff Survey

MMcG introduced herself and her company, Intrinsic Management and outlined that the report posted for the Board and the presentation being provided resulted from a staff survey conducted at the end of 2022. She provided an overview of the organisation’s cultural strengths, quantitative changes in findings since surveys in 2018 and 2020 and areas of improvement which the FSAI should continue to focus on.  It was agreed that the FSAI’s culture development action plan would be provided to the Board.

Action: Provide FSAI Culture Development Action Plan to the Board 

9. AOB

No items were raised under AOB.

FSAI Board Actions: May 2023



Date Raised




Month / Year


Recruitment and Retirement Process: FSAI Executive to review and revert to the Board on actions taken

Feb 22



Sept 23


Revert to the Board with a strategy development plan

Feb 23



June 23


An update on the Blended Working evaluation mechanism, including reviewing performance and contribution, to be provided to the Board at a future meeting

Feb 23



May 23


Provide the Board with a presentation on the current open legal cases

Mar 23



Jun 23


LAVS Update paper, and BH attendance, requested for the next Board meeting

Mar 23



May 23


MC to provide feedback on two notes in the AFS.

Mar 23





PB to circulate to the Board, for info, the SC Report press release.

May 23



Jun 23


Revert to the Board with Draft Action Plan to aligned to the finding of the Effectiveness Report

May 23



Jun 23


Provide Staff Survey Action Plan to the Board at a future meeting

May 23



Sept 23


To Note: Actions raised by the Board will be placed into the Actions table and remain there until completed (or removed by request of the Chair). Once an action is completed it will be marked as such for one meeting prior to being removed.