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FSAI Board Meeting Minutes 21st June 2022


  • Mr Martin Higgins (MH), Chairman
  • Mr Patrick Knight (PK)
  • Ms Mary Cullen (MC)
  • Prof Martin Cormican (P. MC) – Via MS Teams link
  • Prof Francis Butler (FB)
  • Mr Gerard McCurdy (GMcC)
  • Ms. Ann Horan (AH)
  • Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan (CFN)

In attendance

  • Dr Pamela Byrne (PB), Chief Executive
  • Mr Kevin Roantree (KR), Board Secretary
  • Mr Bernard Hegarty (BH) – Item 6.3, via MS Teams



The Chair commenced the meeting with a private session of the Board after which PB and KR returned to the meeting. The Chair outlined that he had briefed the Board on the recent meeting with the DoH and the planned submission of the letter seeking a meeting between the Chair, CEO and the new Assistant Secretary with responsibility for the DoH Food Unit.

1. Disclosure of Interests

There were no disclosures

2. Minutes of the Board meetings on 3rd May 2022

The minutes were reviewed and two edits/clarifications were identified.

3. Matters Arising

The matters arising were reviewed and noted by the Board. For clarification it was requested that Action 6 be amended to include that it related to LAVS.

4. CEO Report

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

A query was raised as to whether the current economic difficulties were leading consumers to increase usage of unregulated food businesses. PB discussed this matter and outlined that FSAI Communications would look at developing a communications plan which highlighted the potential increased risk to consumers.

There was a discussion regarding the increased number of food incidents presented in the CEO report. PB outlined the known sources of food incidents notified to the FSAI and it was agreed that having greater understanding as to whether the increase was due to a greater risk or enhanced reporting was important. PB proposed to discuss this with the SLT and revert to the Board.

There was general agreement, and acknowledgement, of the improved format of the CEO Report to the Board.

It was queried as to the impact that the Albania Project had on FSAI resources, capacity and capability. It was outlined that staff assigned to the Albania Project had their positioned backfilled, using funding from the project. It was agreed that this project was important for the FSAI from a strategic, operational and staff development perspective.

There was discussion as to the data provided in the Appendix of the CEO Report including what does the trend analysis show, how do they compare to international trends, what are the anticipated actions that should be taken, in light of the data, and what are now the key risks to consumers health. PB discussed this matter with the Board, outlined the considerable work that had been completed in the development of a data warehouse and that an increased level of data analytics skills were required across the organisation. It was agreed that this would be discussed with the Board at its October meeting. It was agreed that such discussions should also be an input into the development of the FSAI Risk Register and the next FSAI strategy.

Action: Present a trend analysis of collected data, and subsequent learnings, at the October Board meeting.

5. Enforcement Orders

Reviewed and noted

6. Board Updates

6.1 Business Plan Q2 Progress Report

The progress report was reviewed and discussed by the Board. It was agreed that subsequent quarterly progress reports should not include the budget table in the Exec Summary.

The report was discussed in the context of the skill and capacity gaps in the organisation and the possible impact of the shortfall not being addressed on future reports and the FSAI’s ability to deliver upon its business plan. There was a discussion on the prioritisation of work in the context of the skill/capacity shortfall and the Board requested an update on the ‘triage’ process undertaken by AI&I.

It was noted that the report, with minor clarifications made, would be sent to the DoH.

Action: Clarify the AI&I ‘triage’ process at the September Board meeting

6.2 HR and People Update

The paper was reviewed and discussed. The Board commented that the resources table should also contain contractors and agency staff, demonstrating the full capability of the organisation. With regard to the development of the Blended Working Policy it was agreed that the priority should be to ensure a high performing organisation.

The Board had a brief break during which Bernard Hegarty joined the meeting (via MS Teams)

6.3 LAVS Update

BH provided the Board with an update on progress regarding the anticipated transfer of LAVS to DAFM including that all parties involved in the transfer are demonstrating a strong commitment to ensuring it succeeds. The Board commented that there needs to be an emphasis on ensuring the continuity of services during the proposed change. BH outlined that the FSAI continues to work to ensure the ongoing quality of services as well as maintaining a close engagement with the DoH on developments.

Bernard Hegarty left the meeting

6.4 Strategy Development Process

PB provided the Board with an overview of the strategy development process. The Board queried the assumption as to whether the strategy should be for 3 years rather than the proposed 5 years – it was agreed that this would be considered during the initial analysis phase of the project.

There was a discussion as to the role of the Board in the strategy development process and it was outlined that the paper contained the formal role of the Board (as per the CoP) as well as a proposed approach to Board engagement. It was agreed that the Board should have at least two dedicated sessions/workshops to feed into the process early in the project.

It was also discussed that the FSAI planned to secure an expert panel to support the process as well as procuring a consultant to work with the Board and the SLT over the duration of the project. PB updated that the development of the strategy would be also discussed with the DoH as part of the Governance Meeting scheduled for the following week.

Action: Provide an update on the Strategy Development Process at the next Board meeting

7. Board Committee Updates

7.1 ARC Update

GMcC provided an update from the ARC meeting held on the 13th June. This included the discussions on the FS 2021 and SIC and it was clarified that the ARC were recommending to the Board for its adoption. In addition, he updated that there had been discussions on the progress of the Strategic Workforce Plan project, the agreed Internal Audit Plan and the request that the Executive prioritise the progress in developing a Business Continuity Plan. The ARC had also requested the Executive raise with the DoH the instruction not to be compliant with FRS102.

The Board approved the FS 2021 and SIC (as presented for Item 7.2) and it was agreed that they would be signed by the Chair and the CEO. In addition, it was agreed that the Chair would approve the Letter to the Minister.

GMcG left the meeting.

8. Finance and Corporate Compliance

  • Financial Summary Report
  • 2021 FS/SIC

The Board noted these papers. It was agreed that the regular oversight of the FSAI’s financial position by the SLT in 2022 was critical to ensuring that financial objectives were achieved.

9. Corporate Governance

  • Risk Register
  • Risk Appetite Statement (RAS)

The Board noted the papers and outlined that it believed that risks pertaining to skill and capacity gaps (Risk 4 and 8) should have a higher ranking given the risk to the FSAI’s ability to deliver upon its Business Plan and the ability to address additional unknown demands on its services.

There was a query as to whether Risk 6 (National Emergency Affecting Food Safety) related to a deteriorating food safety environment or a reduction in compliance.

The RAS was approved by the Board and it was clarified that the SLT will now lead in reviewing and amending the Risk Policy and the Risk Register. When populating the new Risk Register it was requested that the SLT consider what they see as the key food safety related risks to public health.

9.3 2021 Annual Report

PB outlined that the AR presented to the Board was in draft format and was still being refined. It was agreed that PB would share a Word version of the report with the Board to facilitate comments and suggestions to be made.

10. AOB

Next meeting: 14th September