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FSAI Board Minutes 30th January 2024

30 January 2024 @ 10.00
Via MS Teams 


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

In attendance

  • Dr Pamela Byrne (PB), Chief Executive 
  • Mr Kevin Roantree (KR), Board Secretary 
  • Ms Gill McNamara (GMcN) Programme Manager, FSAI (Item 6.1 only) 
  • Ms Michelle Minihan, (MM) Director of Audit, Incidents, and Investigations. (items 7.1 & 7.2 only)
  • Ms Bridget Kenna, (BK) HR Manager FSAI (Item 7.5 only) 
  • Ms Oonagh Kelly (OK) and MS Orla Moore, (OM) Co-Chairs of FSAI Staff Committee (Item 7.7 only) 
  • Ms Ruth- Blandina Quinn (RBQ) Governance and Information Manager (Item 10.2 only) 
  • Ms Fiona Dwyer (FD), PA to Director of Corporate Affairs 


  • None     

The Chair welcomed all attendees to the first Board meeting of 2024.  She apologised for moving the meeting from in person to online, this was due to illness, and she felt the need to do so last Friday to give attendees time to adjust their plans.

The Chair gave an overview of the agenda. She advised that 6 FSAI staff members will join today’s meeting, as follows;  (i) MM for her presentation on Audit, Incidents and Investigations and legal cases, (ii) GMcN to provide an update on strategy development and the forthcoming strategy workshop, (iii) BK to present and discuss the results of the Board Skills Assessment, (iv) OM and OK to provide an update on the action plan resulting from the staff survey, and (v) RBQ to present her Data Protection Officers Annual Report to the Board.  Finally, the Chair suggested that attendees use the raise hand function for questions during the meeting and to mute all mics when not speaking.

The Chair informed the Board she has received the notes of last Board and SLT Session with Frank Munnelly. A copy of the notes will be provided to the Board members at the next meeting, and it is proposed that these notes will be referred to on a regular basis, particularly the sections on expectations and team contract.

1. Disclosure of Interests 

FB informed the Board members that he has been appointed to the International Scientific Advisory Board of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority for a period of three years, the first meeting will be in February 2024. Expected meetings will be approximately two per year.

For information for the Board, the CEO noted that Saudi Arabia along with FSAI were co-founders of the international Heads of Food Agencies Forum.

2. Minutes of the last meeting: 12th December 2023. 

Amendments to the minutes had been received in advance by email and were confirmed to be accurate.  The Board reviewed and approved the minutes for signing by the Chair.    

3.  Matters Arising 

KR provided an update on open actions from the minutes of the 12 December 2023.    
Actions update: 
1.    The HR Manager is continuing to work on the FSAI recruitment and retirement process, and this item will be included on the March agenda. 
2.    MM will provide an update on current open legal cases later in the meeting. 
3.    The staff survey action plan has been tabled for discussion at today’s meeting. 
4.    The presentation on innovation will be included on the March agenda.  
5.    The FSAI values framework will be included on the March agenda.  
6.    A presentation on the FSAI’s approach to the environment, climate and sustainability will be provided at the May 2024 Board meeting. 
7.    A report to the Board on the evaluation of blended working will be provided in March 2024.  
8.    The CEO has included a section on reactive media stats in her CEO report. 
9.    The Code of Conduct is currently being reviewed and a revised version will be tabled for discussion at the March meeting.  
10.    The results of the Board Effectiveness Survey are tabled for discussion at today’s meeting. 
11.    The results of the Board Skills Survey are tabled for discussion at today’s meeting. 
12.    The Board Terms of Reference were amended, and the final version was circulated to Board members. Action closed. 
13.    There were no significant changes to the 2024 Business Plan.  The 2024 Business Plan will be sent to the DoH by the end of January, as we have received the Letter of Allocation confirming the expected budget, the plan will not require further adjustment.  Action closed.
14.    Vanessa Colling will join a Board meeting when the “Albania Lessons Learned report” has been completed.  
15.    This item (Risk 1) will be discussed at the next ARC meeting, 11 March 2024, and addressed at the March Board meeting.  
16.    This item (Review of Cyber Security risk) will be discussed at the next ARC meeting, 11 March 2024, and addressed at the March Board meeting.  

4.    CEO Report 

The Chair thanked the CEO for a comprehensive report and noted she would continue to ask that questions on the CEO report be submitted in advance of the Board meeting in the interests of time and also of keeping the right balance between matters of strategic importance, matters reserved for the Board, and operational matters, at Board meetings.

The Chair congratulated Pamela and the team on the signing of an MOU in relation to Local Authority Veterinary Service (LAVS) and for agreeing contracts with the Local Authorities (LA) to ensure continuity of service during the transition period. 

The Chair stated that the document be taken as read and asked the CEO to address the questions received on the CEO report. 

The CEO updated the figures provided within her report relating to protected discloses. She informed the Board that 86 protected disclosures were received in 2023 which is a significant increase on the 16 received in 2022. The CEO informed the Board that she and the team are working to refine internal processes for how we prioritise and deal with protected disclosures.

The CEO informed the group that Brexit border target operating model comes into effect on 31 January 2024, and is something that FSAI have been working towards with agencies and industry for some time. FSAI have worked closely with the inspectorate to make sure they are clear on their role.  She explained the difficulties surrounding the need for health certs to be supplied by a Veterinary Officer and the shortage of resources available to carry out this function. The CEO pointed out that out of 20 companies there are 4 companies supervised by 3 Local Authorities that will require export certs.  Three of these premises will be taken over by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the FSAI will assist the one remaining company that will require exportation certification. The CEO noted that a bedding in period is expected for these procedures. 

The CEO thanked the Chair for her recognition of the significant work that has gone into securing the transfer of the LAVS to DAFM. She informed the meeting that all government parties involved are committed to the success of the transfer and she expects it will take place before the end of the year. FSAI are currently working on transition service contracts to facilitate this. 

The CEO addressed questions on the audit of a premises monitored by a local authority which has had its approval suspended. The CEO informed the Board that FSAI will carry out inspections of an additional 12 premises in this area to ascertain if there are further issues and take appropriate corrective action where necessary.  GMcC asked for clarification regarding the business that had its approval suspended, and the CEO confirmed that the premises remains closed until the corrective actions identified have been addressed. 

Action: The CEO will meet with GMcC in advance of the ARC to update him on the LA audits. 

5. Enforcement Orders 

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

GMcN joined the meeting.  

6. Strategy and Planning  

1.    Strategy Development Update 

The Chair thanked GMcN, FSAI lead for the development of the new strategy, for attending the meeting.  The Chair added that she was very impressed with the report presented to the Board and the progress made since December. She noted that the next workshop takes place on 1st February.  Board members PK and LM have confirmed their attendance and will represent the Board at this workshop.

GMcN gave an overview of her paper and invited questions from the Board.

There was a lengthy discussion on progress to date and areas which will need to be considered further, with all Board members contributing to the debate in a constructive and helpful manner.  GMcN made note of the ideas put forward and undertook to ensure that they are all considered fully as part of the development process.

GMcN informed the Board that the next steps are to look at the key areas that are emerging from the workshops. She informed the Board that the external survey will go out next week and there will be two further workshops before we approach our final draft. It is planned to send a draft to the DoH in June.

Board members requested an extra strategy development workshop in addition to the workshops already scheduled.

Action: It was agreed to hold a Board strategy session in May facilitated by GMcN and Geoff Dooley. 

The Chair thanked GMcN for attending the meeting. 

GMcN left the meeting. 

MM joined the meeting. 

7. Board Matters

7.1    Presentation; Audit, Incidents, and Investigations (AI&I)

The Chair welcomed MM to the meeting and reminded Board members that this is the third in the series of presentations by members of the Senior Leadership Team.  The purpose of this series of presentations is to provide an opportunity for Board members to get to know individual SLT members better and improve their understanding of the day to day work of the FSAI.  

MM gave a comprehensive and informative presentation on the work of the AI&I functional area and the challenges and opportunities facing her team.   She also gave an update on legal cases and the framework for managing active legal cases within the FSAI.   This update on legal cases was requested by the Board at a previous meeting. 

GMcC asked MM for her opinion in relation to resources available to her. MM informed the Board that she and her audit team prioritise their work on a risk basis. She further advised that a review of resource needs in her area is ongoing, and this may lead to a request for further resources and / or process improvements to streamline the work of the division.  The CEO also pointed out that we have the ability to bring in extra resources externally for specific audits as needed.  

CFN raised the issue of the high number of incidents in relation to raw milk. MM informed the Board that she is working with other functional areas to provide information to the public in this area. 

PK pointed out the need to look for analytical and Artificial Intelligence expertise in the FSAI when reviewing resourcing. 

FB asked if in there a need to increase the level of audit on the official agencies to keep the standard of inspection at a high level. MM responded that audit findings are used as an opportunity to feed into other areas of the FSAI and look at where training and compliance building activities may be necessary. 

FB requested an update on the food safety culture fact finding exercise and MM informed the Board that the outputs will feed into food safety culture working group led by the RACB functional area and the findings will be shared with the official agencies and the Board. 

The Chair thanked MM for attendance at the meeting and repeated her invitation to Michelle to join the March Board meeting as an observer. 

The Board held a 10-minute break.

7.3 2023 Delivery Report 

The 2023 Delivery report was taken as read. KR provided an update on the paper and noted that any planned worked which was highlighted as amber within the report has been carried forward into the 2024 Business Plan. The Chair noted that there had been some not unexpected slippage into 2024 but that overall 2023 was a good year with a lot achieved.  

BK joined the meeting. 

7.5 Board Skills and Assessment update 

The Chair welcomed BK to the meeting.  BK provided an overview of the results of the skills assessment survey.

Action: FD to arrange a meeting with the Chair, BK, PB, KR to review the outcome of the survey in detail and to recommend what further analysis may be required so that the information gathered can be used to create an action plan.

The Chair thanked BK for her presentation and attendance at the meeting.  

BK left the meeting. 

7.6 Board Work Plan  

The Board Work Plan was taken as read.  The Chair noted that the presentation on Environment, Climate and Sustainability had been rescheduled to the May board meeting and the review of the Code of Conduct to March.  Otherwise, the Board is on schedule in accordance with the work plan.

8. Finance Update

8.1 Forecasting 2023 & 8.2 Budget 2024 

KR provided an overview of the financial report which included the year-end accounts and the budget for 2024. 

KR informed the Board that the letter of allocation has been received with the allocation as previously indicated by the DoH for 2024.  

OM and OK joined the meeting. 

7.7 Staff Survey Action Plan 

The Chair introduced Orla Moore and Oonagh Kelly, Co-chairs of the Staff Committee.  Oonagh and Orla provided an overview of the action plan from the Staff Survey 2022, and they invited questions from the Board.

GMcC asked how staff health and wellbeing was addressed within the FSAI.  OK informed the Board that there is an FSAI Wellbeing Committee, which is a subgroup of the Staff Committee.  This committee works on a number of initiatives to promote wellbeing in the FSAI.  The CEO also advised that the FSAI implements a “Mind your head, mind your heart, mind each other programme.”

PK referred to the importance of incorporating the FSAI values and expected behaviors into the FSAI PMDS.  The CEO highlighted that all staff have a specific goal within their PMDS to demonstrate commitment to the FSAI values by incorporating them consistently into how staff work and engage with others.  She also noted that there is a values framework in FSAI that sets out the behaviours expected to be demonstrated for each of the values at individual, team, and organisation levels.

MC congratulated OK and OM on their presentation and the work that has been carried out in this area in the past number of years.  She informed the Board that she has seen great progress during her time on the Board.  She asked that the thanks of the Board be extended to the rest of the Staff Committee for their work

The Chair thanked OK and OM for their presentation and attendance at the meeting.

OK and OM left the meeting.  

EOB left the meeting.

9.Committee Updates 

9.1 Scientific Committee Update

P.MC gave an overview of the paper tabled by the Scientific Committee for decision.  
Action: P.MC to revert to FB on his query in relation to dioxins. 
Agreed: The Board agreed that the opinion is intended to be internal advice to FSAI in the wider context of planning the Total Diet Study and therefore agree it is not necessary to publish this opinion as a stand-alone document. 

9.2 Performance & Remuneration Committee 

No meeting since the last Board meeting.  The next PRC meeting is scheduled for February.

9.3 Audit and Risk Committee Update  

There was no update from the ARC at this meeting.  The next meeting will take place in March.   
It was agreed that in future the Risk Register will be reviewed by the ARC in the first instance before becoming an agenda item for Board meetings. 

10 Corporate Governance

10.1 Board Effectiveness Survey Results 

The Board discussed the results and agreed that responses were very positive. It was agreed that the results of the survey will need further review, after which an action plan will drafted for consideration. 

Action: The Chair, CEO and Board Secretary will review the survey responses and revert to the Board with a proposed action plan.

RBQ joined the meeting.

10.2 Data Protection Officer Annual Report to the Board

The Chair welcomed RBQ to the meeting. The report was take as read.

The Chair asked RBQ if she is she satisfied with progress made since she commenced in the FSAI, and sought reassurance that she has sufficient resources and support to do her job. RQB confirmed that she felt supported in her role by her Director and the SLT. She feels she has adequate resources within her team and is happy with the progress made by her team since she commenced in the FSAI. 

The group discussed the direct line of communication available from the DPO to the Board to highlight any matters of concern should they arise. 

RBQ informed the Board that each functional area will have a dedicated “Data Protection Champion” who will be the point of contact for their area.

When asked if she felt they there was adequate legal advice available to her, RBQ said that she welcomed the additio of an in-house legal resource from Beauchamps. The Board discussed the implications of members using non FSAI email accounts. It was noted that the dedicated Board app used for posting papers is designed to ensure the confidentiality of confidential documents. 

Action: KR to meet with the appropriate FSAI staff to consider the implications of Board members using non FSAI email accounts. 

11. AOB  


The Chair welcomed the opportunity to agree the OA/PDA earlier this year due to receipt of the Department of Health letter of allocation and agreement of the business plan ahead of schedule.
The Chair expressed her concern that the documents do not adequately reflect the role of the Board.   As the documents had only been circulated on Friday, some Board members felt that they did not have adequate time to review them in advance of the Board meeting.  It was agreed to recirculate the documents with the comments received to date and to ask Board members to revert with any further comments in a timely manner.

Action: KR to amend the Oversight and Performance Delivery document for comments received to date and recirculate to Board members for any final comments. 

The Chair on behalf of the Board extended her congratulations to GMcC and his partner on their forthcoming wedding. 

12 Private session. 

All FSAI staff left the meeting for a Board private session.  

The meeting concluded at 1.30pm

Date of next meeting: 26 March 2024