- Ray Bowe, Chair [RB]
- Dermot Gates [DG]
- Annette Sweeney [AS]
- Maree Gallagher [MG]
- Eamonn Quinn [EQ]
- Jamie Knox [JK]
- Siobhan Murphy [SM]
- Martin Roper [MR]
- Dermott Jewell [DJ]
- James McCrudden [JMC]
- Tim O’Brien [TOB]
- Cormac Healy [CH]
- Pamela Byrne [PB].
- Raymond Ellard [RE]
- Gerard Power [GP]
- Pat O’Mahony [POM]
The Chair welcomed all to the meeting and thanked them for attending. A brief conversation of current restrictions in place due to Covid-19 ensued with input from many members.
Minutes of previous meeting on 26th June 2020
The minutes of the previous were agreed with no feedback.
FSAI Scientific Committee (FSCC) – update from Dr Pat O’Mahony, Chief Specialist FSAI
Dr Pat O’Mahony from Food Science & Standards team within the FSAI joined to meeting to give a detailed presentation outlining the various responsibilities and functions carried out by the FSAI Scientific Committee.
Throughout the presentation POM utilised a PowerPoint slides to provide examples of the role of the Scientific Committee, providing brief discussion on a sample of the topics below:
- Reference the FSAI Act 1998, with specific mention of Part III, Section 34 outlining the main advisory functions envisioned with the formation of the Scientific Committee.
- Details of the structure within the Committee in relation to appointments, confirming that each individual appointment is sanctioned by the Minister of Health.
- POM highlighted that the Chair is also appointed by the Minister for Health and the candidate must also be a Board member.
- Confirming that a balance of expertise and gender is sought when forming the Committee to accurately reflect the scientific community.
- Details of the Statutory Science Body; informing that 15 experts with over 45 additional experts within sub-committees provide support and input, all over a 5-year term.
- A breakdown of the amendment to the FSAI Act 1998 in relation to Part III: Section 35 relating to the establishment and expectations around subcommittees.
- A more detailed breakdown of the Scientific Committee Structure and subcommittees Biological Safety, Public Health Nutrition, Chemical Safety and an ad-hoc committee.
- Discussion around the detailed work plan agreed by the Scientific Committee for the period of 2016 to 2020, and how they were currently drafting a new version to reflect 2021 onwards. From the existing work plan POM pinpointed 15 specific responsibilities the outlined by the Committee.
- The transparency process was discussed and their responsibility to the public to provide accurate advice and information, ensuring to communicate openly and with accountability.
- A brief outline of the role of the Executive and the requirements in place for the secretariat.
After the presentation POM addressed a couple of questions form the panel in relation to the impact of COVID on the work carried out by the FSCC. RB also asked POM if microplastics might feature in the revised work plan currently being drafted by the FSCC, with POM confirming this was under consideration. AS and POM engaged in a conversation on fermented foods and how the FSCC planned to approach this matter in future.
Open Meeting 2021
RB started off by mentioning how webinar technology already in place may be a great facility to utilise in order to invite speakers to give talks on whatever topic is selected. RB spoke of the desire to hold the meeting some time in April 2021 and how CH had already proposed a possible topic relating the regulatory divergences that emerge in the post Brexit relationship between the UK and Ireland/EU. MG countered that she felt April 2021 may be too soon to see the real picture emerge given the agreed waiting period extensions granted during Brexit talks.
RB proposed two other potential topics, the first relating to emerging risks in the food safety industry, with RE agreeing there would be a multitude of expert opinion available to give online talks on the subject. The second proposed topic centred around a potential forum on the flow of expertise into the food safety industry from the education system, but various attendees stated they felt this topic may have been exhausted already through various meetings and talks within the industry. RE pointed out all the FSAI actions in place through the training team and Ruth to highlight this topic.
Action: RB stated he would look to form a possible subgroup of committee members in early 2021 to discuss ideas for the new meeting and would revert in future with an update.
RE reminded the council of the manner in which nomination to the FSCC are made, highlighting recent developments in which a number of potential new members has been submitted to the Minister for Health for consideration. RE reminded the panel that such nominations are at the discretion of the Minister for Health, and as such FSAI await feedback in this regard. RE remains hopeful that four to five new council nominations may be approved in early 2021.
Raymond Ellard updated the members on the main issues that have arisen in the FSAI since the last meeting. These included a summary of:
- Recent publications from FSAI
- A brief update on Brexit in relation to FSAI
- Recent activity within FSAI in relation to Food Supplements, E-Commerce and Food Labelling.
- Audits & Investigations work carried out
- Public Health Nutrition
A detailed update was provided to all committee members via email in advance of the meeting and it was agreed that members would review and revert to FSAI with any queries or issues they wished to discuss further if necessary.
ES initiated a conversation in relation to food safety compliance and incident reporting from a statutory perspective, seeking input from the council in this regard and asking if they felt an obligation was firmly in pace on behalf of the FBO to report any such accidents or incidents. The discussion that followed touched on various topics relating to the question such as how FBO might deal with these incidents in relation to review of their risk register and highlighting any quality issues identified on an annual basis. Subsequent discussions centred around what the council felt were the legal obligations in place to cover such issues within any business and the responsibility on any board to address these matters.
Date of next meeting
RB informed that the dates under consideration for 2021 were dates in middle of February, June, September and December. It was hoped that these dates would be confirmed early next year.