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Consultative Council - 24th July 2019

Minutes of the Consultative Council Meeting, 24th July 2019.


  • Ray Bowe, Chair [RB]; 
  • Jamie Knox [JK]; 
  • James McCrudden [JMC]; 
  • Dermot Gates [DG]; 
  • Annette Sweeney [AS]; 
  • Dermott Jewell [DJ];


  • Eamonn Quinn [EQ];
  •  Cormac Healy [CH]; 
  • Siobhan Murphy [SM]; 
  • Maree Gallagher [MG], 
  • Pamela Byrne [PB]


  • Ray Ellard [RE]; 
  • Dorothy Guina Dornan, [DGD]; 
  • Eileen Lippert [EL]; 
  • Gordon Chambers [GC]*, 
  • Karl McDonald, [KMcD]*, 
  • Cristina Arrroyo-Casabona, [CAC]* attended for agenda items 3 - 5.


The Chair welcomed all to the meeting and thanked them for attending. 

Minutes of previous meeting on 26th March 2019

The Chair, on behalf of the FSCC, expressed condolences to Eamonn Quinn on the recent passing away of his father Fergal.

Matters arising

EL to circulate data regarding number of food premises that were closed in 2018 due to pest control issues. There were no other matters arising that were not agenda items. 

Irish Microplastics Awareness – Prof. Gordon Chambers, TUD

Prof. Gordon Chambers from TUD was introduced and he gave a presentation which elaborated on:

  • Explaining what the project is about
  • Statistics on our plastic use
  • Statistics relating to Ireland
  • Two types of microplastic
  • Growing awareness of microplastics
  • Typical microplastic ingredients to look out for on household product labels
  • More info on secondary microplastics
  • Plastic fibres
  • Impact of microplastics on zooplankton
  • Transition into tissues, cells and organelles
  • Entry of microplastics to food chain of higher organisms
  • Edible marine species found with plastic
  • Other foods 
  • A preliminary study on infant formula
  • Issues with studies – contamination
  • Are microplastics toxic?
  • Effects on marine animals – (lab only)
  • What is known of effects in humans
  • Airborne microplastics
  • Cytotoxicity of airborne microplastics
  • Challenges and knowledge gaps
  • Challenges to society.

Action: EL will circulate the presentation to the members. 

GC dealt with all questions and queries following the presentation and some discussions about the difficulties on using non-plastics took place and the fact that sometimes, they are not necessarily the most environmentally friendly option. Some issues with bamboo products were raised, along with some inks and dyes not being food-grade. Reference was also made to active and intelligent packaging that is now available. 

Overview of Rules re Food Contact Materials (FCM) – Dr Karl McDonald, FSAI

Dr Karl McDonald was introduced to the members and he went to present to the members and the main points of his presentation included:

  • Humans have produced over 8.3bn tons of plastic since 1950
  • Only 30% of the plastic ever produced is still in use
  • The four priorities in the EU plastics strategy
  • What are FCMs?
  • Where are FCMs found?
  • Materials and substances in FCMs
  • Sometimes dangerous substances are found in FCM and cause food safety issues
  • Why these substances cause food safety issues
  • Outlined the main legislation covering FCMs
  • Links to resources and supports which are available

Following the presentation, some issues with bamboo products were raised, along with some inks and dyes not being food-grade. Reference was also made to active and intelligent packaging that is now available. 

Action: EL will circulate the presentation to the members. 

Microplastics in Food – Dr Cristina Arroyo-Casabona, FSAI

Dr Arroyo-Casabona was introduced to the meeting and the main points of her presentation included:

  • An introduction to microplastics in food
  • Associated hazards of microplastics in food
  • Microplastics in the marine environment
  • Microplastics in food – other exposure routes
  • Microplastics – other foods (examples given)
  • Microplastics in Irish food 
  • Potential health effects of microplastics in food
  • Legislative status of microplastics in food
  • EU legislation and initiatives re microplastics in food. 

It was commented upon that migration was a common theme in all of the presentations. There is a potential vacuum of information around the three issues discussed and social media is not always helpful. It was stated that scientists need to speak up to correct inaccuracies being spread. The long-term effects of microplastics in food need to be identified, otherwise it might cause hysteria in the public for no reason. Education is seen as being key in helping to reduce the amount of plastic being sold and with this in mind, the members discussed some initiatives that they are familiar with. 

When discussions were over, the Chair thanked the three presenters for their time in presenting to the FSCC.

Agreed: The members would like to see decisions made using scientific evidence rather than by marketeers and public opinion. All the members were in agreement that the only question is are plastic particles safe? And we don’t know the answer to that yet. 

Action: EL will circulate the presentation to the members. 

Open Meeting 2019

Due to scheduling difficulties, the date of the open meeting has changed to 21 November 2019 in the Science Gallery.

Action: The chair agreed to lead on an Open Meeting Sub-group to discuss the theme for the meeting. The FSAI Communications team will join this sub-group. 

Brexit Update

RE gave a brief update on this. Some training for port officers has taken place; dry runs have yet to take place. FSAI has posted FAQs on its website and is dealing with any queries it receives. He commented that it is difficult to obtain data on the movement of goods between Ireland and N. Ireland due to N. Ireland currently being in the EU. A lot of work is going on to improve Border Inspection Posts and added that while it will be administratively challenging, the general view is that there should be no immediate risk to food safety. Members proceeded to give some anecdotal examples of what they have heard in their respective industries. 

FSAI Update

Raymond Ellard updated the members on the main issues that have arisen in the FSAI since the last meeting. These included a summary of:

  • Outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney in the Romanian/Moldovan population in Ireland which was caused by a meat product made in Romania.
  • Three new members appointed to the FSAI Board – Gerry McCurdy, Francis Butler and Cliodhna Foley-Nolan.
  • FSAI is in contact with DoH re their outstanding nominations and it is likely that at least four will be nominated to replace those whose term recently ended. 
  • FSAI is experiencing budgetary constraints which is impacting on the work of the FSAI/
  • Since the beginning of the year, over 60 food alerts have been issued, adding that alerts have doubled since 2017.
  • Guidance on the labelling of whiskey was recently published and work is progressing on guidance for gin.
  • He expressed the need for a definition for ‘vegan’ and outlined a situation recently experienced regarding vegan ice-cream.
  • The FSAI will host a food science conference 21-22 August. 


There was no other business. 

Date of next meeting

The meeting scheduled to take place in September will not now go ahead. Members agreed October would be better and EL will advise members of the date.