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Artisan Forum Meeting - 21st October 2022


  • Tim Camon, FSAI, Chair (TC)
  • Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School (DA)
  • Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery (SB)
  • Donal Lehane, Chair of Community Food Group (DLe)
  • Simone Kelly, Rocket Foods, (SiK)
  • Dave Lang, ACBI, (DL)
  • Tom Dinneen, CAIS, (TD)
  • John Brennan, Leitrim Organic Farming Co-op (JB)
  • Kevin Brennan, Teagasc (KB)
  • Kevin Sheridan, Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, (KS) (for Jeffa Gill)
  • Elisabeth Ryan, Independent Craft Brewers (ER)
  • Sean Kent, Poultry Producer, (SK) (from 11:34)


  • Jeffa Gill, Durrus Cheese, (JG)
  • Mary O’Regan, Regan’s Organic Farm (MO’R)                                 


  • Dearbhla Reynolds, Cultured Club, (DRe)
  • Declan Ryan, Arbutus Bread, (DR)
  • Eoin Bird, The Wooded Pig, (EB)
  • Eoin Cluskey, Bread 41, (EC)
  • William Cleary, Irish Beekeepers, (WC)
  • Penny Porteous Allen, Ballymaloe, (PPA)

In Attendance:          

  • Eileen Lippert, FSAI (EL)
  • Rob Phillips, FSAI, (RP)
  • Christine King, FSAI (CK)*
  • Clodagh Crehan, FSAI (CC)
  • Gail Carroll, FSAI (GC)



Tim Camon welcomed everyone, and he reminded members of the questions circulated to them in advance of the meeting and added that he will seek members’ views and opinions on these later in the meeting.

Clarity around legislation for selling homegrown produce in a deli or hotel*

The chair introduced Christine King (CK) who gave a presentation and added that she is available to address questions by phone or by e-mail.

Following the presentation, the floor was opened to questions. Members stated that they would like to review the information in more detail and will follow up with questions afterwards. Some of the queries raised were:

Eggs and packing facilities for those with over 50 hens – is it 50 hens or 50 laying hens?

Members stressed the need to encourage small businesses and cited some examples of what some businesses are experiencing vis-à-vis selling their own home grown produce.

Clarification of cut-off points – confirmed this is agreed on a case-by-case basis depending on the product.

Concerns about the cost of feed for organic chicken producers and the need for improvement in collaboration between DAFM and organic bodies.

Clarification was made on the difference between the registration process and the approval process for food businesses. JB referred to an ERASMUS project on guidelines for small holders which is due to be launched in November.

Action: EL circulate CK presentation to the members and also provide them with her contact details.

Action: Members to review the presentation and follow-up with queries to CK.

Action: CK to check query re 50 hens and revert.

Action: JB to forward the ERAMUS guidelines to FSAI for review prior to publication.

Labelling - packaging of artisan produce and plastic packaging

The Chair introduced Clodagh Crehan. She advised that she had a presentation prepared, but it was agreed it would be better to deal with the members’ queries. DA outlined some queries which CC addressed. These included derogations for small businesses, labelling of pesticides, frequency of spraying, etc. TC reassured the meeting that finding levels of pesticides that are risks to health is a rarity and commented on monitoring programmes. GC provided information on these. Members outlined some issues that they are witnessing in their localities. CC also advise that there is a review of the FIC legislation and also referred to the EU Farm-to-fork strategy vis-à-vis sustainability. RP also referred to information available online.

Action: CC to prepare note on queries raised at the meeting and circulate to members after the meeting. The presentation she prepared will also be circulated.

Action: EL to circulate link to info on monitoring programmes along with link to information referred to by RP.

Clarity around fermented products for example milk kefirs

There is no specific legislation regarding milk kefirs - general milk legislation labelling, and food contact material labelling legislation apply. Members were advised that an update from Cormac McElhinney was circulated to members in advance of the meeting. The members thanked FSAI for its guidance on fermented food and also was appreciative of collaborations between the members, DAFM and Tim Camon.

Agree minutes of the meeting on 21 April 2022

Agreed: The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed without amendment.

Action: EL to circulate agreed minutes to the members.

Matters Arising from Previous Meeting

Note on specific guidance required by members

Action: Members were reminded that they needed to send a note on the specific guidance that they would like. The members requested that this request remain open and be discussed at the next meeting so that they can send this request to colleagues/peers.

Meeting with TUD

The Chair confirmed that he was in contact with Fintan Moran in TUD. DA outlined some actions the members have taken and added that TUD offered the artisans a 15-minute presentation which the artisans believe is not long enough. FM also suggested that this issue needs to be addressed by HSE as part of training. Much discussion took place on this matter. RP commented that the EHAI might also need to be involved in this. The members questioned if EHO training does not include training on artisan methods, is it actually fit for purpose? They made three recommendations:

Supplementary training to be provided to student EHOs at the end of their conventional course

Ongoing professional training in the area and train and educate the teachers and lecturers so that they can pass on the learning to students

Agreed: The members agreed that artisans are not suggesting or requesting reduced inspections for the sector.

The chair commented that there is a difference between working with business to build compliance and enforcement and there might need to be a two-pronged approach. There was a lengthy discussion on this general topic and GC ended the discussion by thanking members for their views and comments and reminded members that   it is not possible for any inspector or regulator to know everything about everything. The FBOs need to know what they should be doing and their legal compliance obligations. FBOs should communicate and collaborate with their inspectors including where they feel necessary using the complaint and dispute resolution mechanisms previously outlined to the artisans. GC stressed the need for and importance of two-way communication. RP stated that where a FBO has a disagreement or issue of approach with an inspector then the first recourse for the FBO would be to contact the official agency for the matter to be dealt with in accordance with the Agency’s complaint procedure.

Action: GC will raise the points on EHO training with HSE management, noting the points above.

Action: DA to send EL a list of those she liaised with. EL will then forward to RP in order for him to follow-up. DA will also forward information referred to from a recent cheesemakers event in UK.

Action: The members to send to EL a list identifying the generic issues that they/other artisans encounter, with official agency inspectors. This to include examples where it is felt that artisan producers require alternative consideration by an Official Agency to that normally adopted towards non-artisan food businesses. This information would be beneficial in informing us of any necessary change to EHO training.

Freezing of salmon

A member raised concerns about parasites and nematodes and in fish.

Action: FSAI will review parasites and nematodes and food safety issues with the relevant in-house experts.

Three questions for members to consider during the break

The Chair reminded the members he had asked members for their answers to the three questions that were previously circulated and added that members can send additional comments after the meeting. He outlined some of the responses received and discussions followed.

Members comments on gaps on the forum:       

The current agenda format should stay as is

Greenwashing in the food industry – TC added this is being addressed in the EU Farm-to-fork strategy and fraudulent labelling.

Remove microbrewing as a gap in the forum as this is being addressed by having ER on the forum

Viticulture was suggested by one member as a gap in membership

Best before and use by dates – reference made to work underway in UK in the context of reducing food waste. It was clarified that this too is being addressed in the EU Farm-to-fork strategy and that EU is reviewing FIC legislation.

Action: Members to send their responses to the three questions if they have not already done this along with the contact details of relevant expert in these areas.

Terms of reference

The Chair reminded the members were asked to provide the names of their alternates. He also commented on the attendance/non-attendance record of some members and that this will be reviewed. He also reiterated the need for members to disseminate information to their industry sectors.

A proposal was made for a central database of all enquiries received and this led to much discussion and suggestions. A database of all small food producers was also proposed. GC added that these are not really for the FSAI but could be something for government agencies with a remit for business development such as the LEOs.

Action: EL to circulate to members the names of alternates already provided.

Action: GC will look into bodies to which FSAI can disseminate information, e.g., LEOs, Bord Failte Taste Groups. Members should send in contact details of the various bodies and any other ideas after this meeting

Meetings physical virtual hybrid

Agreed: One meeting per year will be physical. Otherwise, virtual meetings will suffice.

Update from Teagasc

Kevin Brennan commented that that Eddie O'Neill has retired from Teagasc but is operating as a consultant in the hub in Athenry. Deirdre Kennedy has recently been appointed as his replacement. He advised that Shay Hannon is the contact point in Teagasc Ashtown. The members welcomed the appointment of Deirdre Kennedy.

Action: KB to send EL Deirdre Kennedy’s and Shay Hannon’s contact details for onward dissemination. He will also include information about the upcoming Science Week events.

FSAI Update

The members were reminded to send comments on the FSMS for SMPS guide which was circulated in advance of the meeting.

GC provided an update on staffing changes. She informed the group that the Chair was retiring and she and the thanked Tim for his great contribution to the forum over many years and wished him well in his future endeavours. Members also congratulated Tim and wished him well on retirement.


Guide on fermentation

The members enquired about the status of the guide on fermentation. FSAI confirmed that this is published.

Action: EL to send link to the report to members.

Craft butchers’ competition

DL updated the members of a competition for craft butchers which took place in Sacramento, USA in which Ireland came fourth. Germany won.

Dates for meetings in 2023

Dates to be decided when a new chair has been appointed. The members proposed the new Chief Specialist of Veterinary Public Health to be the new chair. GC noted this request.

The Chair said goodbye and thanked everyone for their commitment and innovation and confirmed that the FSAI is committed to this Forum.