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Artisan Forum - 16 April 2015

Minutes of the Artisan Forum Meeting, 16 April 2015.


Wayne Anderson, FSAI (WA) Chair
Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School (DA)
Sean Kent, Poultry breeder (SK)
Carmel Farrell, Teagasc (CF)
Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery (SB)
Dave Lang, ACBI (DL)
Declan Ryan, Arbutus Breads (DR)
Kevin Sheridan (KS) – alternate for Raymond O’Rourke and Jeffa Gill
John Brennan, Leitrim Organic Farming Co-op (JB)
Donal Lehane, Food NPD Teo (DL)


Jeffa Gill, Durrus Cheese (JG)
John Matthews, FSAI (JM)
Tim Camon, FSAI (TC)
Raymond O’Rourke, Taste Council (RO’R)

In Attendance

Pamela Byrne, FSAI (PB)
Eileen Lippert, FSAI (EL)
Frank Macken, DAFM (FM)
Dorothy Guina Dornan, FSAI (DGD)


Noted: WA invited everyone to briefly introduce themselves to PB, the new CEO of the FSAI. This was followed by a short account of PB’s background and her first two months in the FSAI. She commented and praised the work of the artisan producers and their importance in the agri-food industry.

Action: PB stated that she would be keen to receive feedback from the members on what FSAI is doing well and where it could do better. She added that FSAI will draft a new statement of strategy this year and members will be invited to comment on it during its development.

Action: DA queried if education/training to foster artisan crafts was within the FSAI remit. FSAI stated that this is outside the Authority’s remit, but PB added that she would try to include it on the agenda for her meetings with DAFM.

Noted: Much discussion took place on the idea of artisan apprenticeships and the need for hands-on training - Germany was given as an example of where excellent systems are in place.

Action: DR will send a copy of a letter he wrote to Minister R. Bruton TD on the issue of apprenticeships to EL to be circulated to the members for information.

Noted: Further discussions took place on the need for the specialised training of enforcement officers as the artisans consider that they don’t have the proper knowledge of artisan food production. This concern was acknowledged by FSAI but EHO attendance at the UCC artisan course was cited as an example of the willingness of officers to develop their skills. Members acknowledged that the situation has improved, but much more needs to be done.

Noted: Members suggested that given proper training, EHOs could become a “training force” instead of a “police force” and it was suggested that FSAI and the artisans should approach colleges and educational institutes again to progress this issue.

Note: It was also suggested that a panel of mentors to help farm families to set up small farm businesses in a practical hands-on way could be established.


Agreed: The minutes were agreed subject to some amendments. For efficiency it was agreed that in future the minutes will be approved electronically and then posted onto the website.


Bee health

Action: At DA request FSAI will arrange for bee health to be on the agenda for the next meeting and will arrange for an expert from DAFM to speak about it.


Action: DA and BH will arrange to meet in the future to discuss some of the various issues raised at the FVO audit on poultry plants in Ireland.

Noted: DA is working on and making progress regarding the small on-farm slaughtering unit (up to 10000 units).


The Taste Council is preparing a position paper on testing for VTEC using molecular methods.

Consistency of private audits

Action: FSAI will provide the artisans with an opportunity to speak to the large retailers. KS will be the contact person from this Forum.

Noted: Conversation turned to SALSA and then the fact that NSAI might be setting up a working group for smaller businesses.


Noted: The draft agenda was agreed.


Noted: Mr Macken introduced himself to the members and wished PB well in her new role. He outlined the scope of the term ‘organic’ and elaborated on the certification system in Ireland for organic suppliers. He also mentioned some of the legislation pertinent to the sector.
Action: EL will circulate the legislation referred to above.

Noted: FM explained that there is a proposal at EU level to change the framework of organics, but no decision has been reached as yet. He also explained that there is a national target to grow the organic industry year-on-year and this led to some feedback and discussion. While dissatisfaction was expressed at some State bodies it was acknowledged that the stimulus package has seen a large number of new entrants into the organic sector. This segued into a discussion about barriers to organic farming.

Noted Members are of the view that there should be derogation for small/local producers regarding the cost of organic inspections. Currently they pay the same price as big industry and perhaps a reduced fee would be more appropriate.

Noted: DA raised the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)and some concerns about the proposed partnership and these were elaborated upon.

Noted: FM stated that the Commission is keen to set maximum residue levels (MRL) for organics and he sought the insights of the members.

Agreed: In general, the members are in favour of a lower MRL for organics however they are aware that this could have some serious implications.

Action: there was a query about the scientific evaluation of the negative effect of copper sulphates and members were advised to check the DAFM website for information about this.

Agreed: FM invited members to contact him, or his colleagues directly if they have any queries and EL will send his contact details to the members.

Noted: DA invited representatives from DAFM and Teagasc to attend the upcoming Soil Association Conference.


Noted: WA explained that Emer O’Reilly who prepared the presentation could not attend this meeting so he gave the presentation on food additives and the main points included:

  • Definition of food additive
  • The regulatory framework of food additives
  • The Common Authorisation Procedure (CAP) (Regulation (EC) No. 1331/2008)
  • Additives legislation (Regulation (EC) NO. 1333/2008)
  • Elaborated on the conditions of use
  • The Union list of food additives authorised in food (the positive list)
  • Demonstrated the EU webpage for the food additives database
  • Information on labelling requirements
  • Explained Annex III of the Additives Regulation
  • Clarified exemptions from labelling in the ingredient list
  • Elaborated on processing aids
  • Carry-over was described, as was reverse carry-over
  • Monitoring of food additives in Ireland
  • Gave a summary of the national chemical sampling programme for food additives 2012-2015
  • Informed members about FSAI guidance on food additives
  • Who assesses the safety of food additives and how
  • Details of the re-evaluation programme of additives.

Action: EL will circulate the presentation to the members. If members have any additional queries, please send them to EL who will direct them to Emer O’Reilly.

Noted: The presentation resulted in several queries and much discussion about misleading consumers. The artisans considered that while the new legislation is an improvement, there are still some problems with transparency of additive use e.g. food enzymes.

Noted: FSAI does not publish a list of its additives testing and findings, however it is discussing how to make these data available.

Action: EL will circulate the Guidance on Food Additives to the members.

Noted: Pesticide residues were mentioned by one member and WA reiterated that pesticides monitoring is carried out by DAFM and members were encouraged to check out the DAFM website.

Action: Include pesticides/testing at a future meeting. FSAI will invite someone from DAFM to give a presentation on the topic. Members will need to send in specific questions so that their queries can be properly answered and addressed.

Noted: It was queried, in light of the Netherlands banning glyphosate/Round-up, if FSAI has concerns. This led to many anecdotal examples and much discussion of the incorrect use of glyphosphate. FSAI replied that it can only ensure that MRLs are complied with. PB explained the rigorous authorisation and review process that pesticides need to go through to be approved for use in the EU.


Noted: WA informed the group this document is complete and is awaiting final sign-off in the FSAI and it’s hoped it will be published in May. A press release will be issued to launch it and the guidance will be distributed to stakeholders with the help of Artisan Forum members.

Action: Members will be notified when the document is published.

Noted: The members thanked WA for his work on the guidance and members commented that the document will have huge implications for the artisan sector.


Action: CF will bring back comments received about Teagasc.

Action: EL will circulate the link to the Teagasc national residues database to the members. Some GMO testing is carried out and these results are posted onto and EL will also send this link to the members.

Noted: CF outlined some of the most recent events of interest to the members. There was much discussion about the butchery course and it is hoped, subject to numbers, to hold a second butchery event later in the year.

Agreed: CF will continue to provide regular updates to EL so that they can be circulated to the Artisan Forum members.

Noted: Discussions took place about the National Butcher Academy in Ballinasloe and DL will give his contact details to JB so that he can be directly contacted for advice and help. JB also gave an update on some initiatives that his organisation is involved with and the National Organic Training Skillnet (NOTS) training programme 2015 was circulated to the members for information.


Raw milk

Noted: KS asked for some clarification regarding the new DAFM SI proposal. WA provided clarification and much discussion took place. Members commented that they would be in favour of lower volume limit than that in the proposed SI and WA advised the members to make this suggestion to DAFM.

Country of origin labelling

Noted: DGD clarified that this is related to the food information legislation and therefore does not apply to loose meat or to meat which is packaged at a butcher shop – it only relates to pre-packed foods. This was discussed for a short time and some of the members expressed disappointment that the national legislation was not more encompassing. Members were advised to take this matter up with DAFM who are leading on the country of origin legislation.
Action: EL will circulate DAFM’s trader notice on the issue to the members.

Routine spraying with Round-up of potatoes before they are harvested
Noted: FSAI consulted Teagasc Oakpark about this and they assured the FSAI that roundup (active ingredient glyphosate) is not used on potatoes prior to harvest. However, there are a number of products (mainly diquat based) approved as desiccants for burning off potato haulms prior to harvest --- these are contact herbicides that do not translocate throughout the plant and therefore present minimal risk to the potato tubers under the soil. Spraying generally takes place a couple of weeks prior to harvest. The reasons for burning off haulms include controlling tuber size, easier harvesting and prevention of transmission of fungal blight infection from the vegetation to the tubers.

Action: WA will also make PCS aware of verbal information provided by artisan members that there have been increased sales of Roundup as many farmers suspect it will soon be banned 

Butchers with slaughterhouses

Noted: FSAI was asked to provide data on the number of butchers that have licenced slaughterhouses and FSAI provided this information which was discussed in great detail.

Action: FSAI will verify the data and then send it to the members for information

Effects of vaccination of dairy cows

Noted: Additional information about this query was requested as this was dealt with at a previous meeting and SK commented on a thesis that is being written on ducks and E.coli vaccines.

Action: SK will compile some information on the issue so that DAFM can be made aware of the situation.

Action: EL to source a Teagasc booklet cited by SK which provided some information about vaccines.

Approved poultry slaughter

Noted: JB provided some good news in that ‘The Friendly Farmer’ is now an approved poultry slaughterer and is available for business.


Noted: The next meeting will take place in September or October 2015. The exact date can be arranged by doodle poll.