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Artisan Forum - 16th April 2019

Minutes of the Artisan Forum Meeting, 16th April 2019.


  • John Matthews, FSAI (JMat), Chair
  • Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School (DA)
  • Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery (SB)
  • Kevin Brennan, Teagasc (KB)
  • John Brennan, Leitrim Organic Farming Co-op (JB)
  • Elisabeth Ryan, Independent Craft Brewers (ER)
  • Jane Murphy, Cais (JMur) 
  • Declan Ryan, Arbutus Breads (DR)
  • Simone Kelly, Rocket Foods, (SiK)
  • John Hickey, ACBI (JH)


  • Hugh Maguire, ACBI (HM)
  • Eoin Bird, The Wooded Pig (EB)
  • Jeffa Gill, Durrus Cheese (JG)
  • Dearbhla Reynolds, Cultured Club (DR)
  • Mary Regan, Regan Organic Farms, (MR)
  • Donal Lehane, Food NPD Teo (DL)
  • Sean Kent, Poultry Hatchery (SK)
  • William Cleary, Beekeeper (WC) 
  • Dorothy Guina Dornan, FSAI (DGD)

In Attendance

  • Eileen Lippert, FSAI (EL)
  • Tim Camon, FSAI (TC)
  • Pamela Byrne, FSAI (PB)

Agree Minutes of Previous Meeting on 24 January 2019

Agreed: The minutes were approved subject to some amendments to the attendance and to AOB.

Matters Arising

FACE Conference

JMur advised the members that the FACE conference will take place in Valencia 22-24 October 2019. Members suggested it would be useful for a representative from the FSAI to attend. 

EHO Training

JMat advised that he had phoned Fintan Moran in DIT. Mr. Moran was enthusiastic about the prospect of experienced artisan producers giving some training to the students. It was agreed in principle that DIT would arrange for opportunities for members of the forum to provide guest lectures to EHO students. Some of the most important topics put forward by the members were:

  • Sourdough
  • Fermentation
  • Cheese making
  • Butchery
  • Smoking
  • Organic growing
  • Fermented meats

Members welcomed this development and suggested that along with student EHOs, it would also be useful to train other inspectors, e.g. SFPA officers could be given training in traditional methods at BIM offices also. Further down the line, students will be welcome to visit the business premises of the members to observe some of the traditional methods employed. 

Concerns were expressed about EHO reactions to some traditional methods and at this point JH commented on the relationship that butchers and EHOs are cultivating and welcomed the increased specialisation in EHOs supervising butchers premises.

Action: JMat will send a follow-up email to DIT outlining the specialities where artisan training was most necessary and to progress the initiative with the aim of guest lectures being given after October 2019.

Plastic food covering

This matter is best addressed at the Enforcement Consistency WG meeting. 

Milk Monitoring Programme in Cork

Members were advised that this programme is up and running again. Another report is due out and will be circulated to members when it is available.

Microbiological Sampling of Cheese

Action: Required sample weights could be available in the Microbiological Criteria Guidelines and KB will look into this and revert. JM and TC will raise this issue with DAFM at the next Service Contract liaison meeting.

Presentation from Charlie Kealy

FSAI will seek permission from Mr Kealy to circulate his presentation to the members. 

One of the members updated the meeting on positive progress in Leitrim with the assistance of the Leitrim Co. Vet. This led to a discussion about registered premises and the rationale behind why a registered slaughterhouse could not slaughter poultry originating from a neighbours farm. This in turn led to a suggestion that the artisans should set up a lobby group, liaise with their local MEPs. Slow Food, Tallamh, Copa Cogeca and ARC 2020 were mentioned and these could be useful bodies to artisans.

Action: JMat to contact DAFM to enquire with if there is an appetite in the EU Commission to amend some of Hygiene Package Regulations, which in turn could be invaluable to rural development.

Agreed: The success of FACE as a recognised trade organisation at EU level was brought up and JMur will present on this and how this was achieved, at the next meeting. 

There was a query about proposed changes to EU legislation, specifically Reg. 852/2004 & 853/2004, and on possible implications and opportunities for cheese makers.

Action: JM will enquire with DAFM who negotiate on policy issues at EU level and revert. 

Action: FSAI will conduct a survey of food producers to learn about what their main issues and problems are and this could aid discussions re the new legislation which is believed to be at an early stage. 

PCR Testing for Liquid Milk

This report is in the final stages of publication and should hopefully be available to the members soon. 

Metabisulphates in Prawns

This issue was reported to SFPA and additional information was requested. Members advised that producers are afraid to give details but that it is a commonplace practice in Cork. It’s very difficult to source prawns that have not been dipped. It is suspected by members that some white fish is also being dipped. This led to concerns about anomalies in the labelling legislation, esp. of ingredients and processing aids.

Action: FSAI will raise this again with colleagues in Enforcement Policy. 

Cooking over Fire

Action: Members to enquire what issues EHOs may have with cooking over fire and then revert to FSAI. DA will also revert to BRAT about the issue. 

Home Deliveries and Allergens

The FSAI booklet on food allergens was distributed to the members at the meeting and this addresses the issue of allergens and home deliveries.

Definitions for Traditional Black Pudding and Sourdough Bread

Black pudding

JH addressed this and following consultation with some of his members, it is considered that some of the marketing suggestions proposed by the members could be off-putting to consumers. This was discussed in depth.

Agreed: Members need to find a combination of words that describe the value proposition they are trying to protect and JH and ACBI will research definitions for blood pudding in Europe and revert to the members with a draft definition for discussion. 

Sourdough bread

DR sourced a definition of sourdough bread from Lara Parks, Sourdough Champion and this was briefly discussed. 

Agreed: It was suggested having a list of permissible ingredients and a minimum fermentation time of 12hrs in the definition and many were in favour of this. The need to include the micro flora of an area in the foundation starter is also considered to be important and should be included in the definition. Meanwhile DR will consult with BBGA (Bread Bakers Guild of America) to enquire if they have a definition. DA will raise the issue at a meeting of bread bakers which will take place in Cork later this year. ER will work on the definition and revert to members with her draft. 

Update on the Appointment of Someone to Advise of Food Fermentation

Agreed: The appointee will start in the FSAI in June and food fermentation will be one of their priorities. However, it could be August by the time they get started on the project, due to training, etc. Members extended an invitation to the new appointee to visit food fermentation premises which could be useful. Meanwhile, members wondered if it would be feasible to prepare a short guidance for the sector while the full guidance is ready, and it was advised that this is not feasible as it takes as long to prepare short guidance as long guidance. 

Department Overreach – Inspections of Artisan Cheese makers

JMur addressed this issue and outlined lack of consistency in inspections. It was noted that one cheese maker had four different inspectors over 20 months. JMur herself has a new inspector and received non-compliance notices, which she elaborated upon, along with issues which she has experienced or were raised by other cheese makers. The importance of cultivating good working relationships between producers and inspectors was stressed and it was thought that these issues had been rectified but seems to be cropping up again. It was queried if there was adequate transfer of knowledge from retiring inspectors to new inspectors and this led to a discussion on the very good communication system that butchers have with their enforcement officers.

Action: In order to address these issues, the FSAI will liaise with JMur and look into the matter further and the matter will be raised with its Enforcement Policy Unit and with DAFM. 

Update from Enforcement Consistency Working Group

ER who represented the Forum at the meeting gave a short oral update on the meeting which was then discussed by the members.

Action: Members agreed that there should be mutual respect between inspector and artisan and this is not always the case. There also needs to be some exploration on the high number of follow-ups EHOs receive following an investigation. The conflict of interest issue was raised and on FSAI will find out if inspectors have to sign such forms. ER is awaiting replies to some queries and when she has received these, she will circulate her update to the members. Members will discuss introducing an inspection evaluation report system and JMur will progress this issue and revert at the next meeting. 

Update from Teagasc

KB informed the members that Teagasc will be organising forest walks and will send details of these to the members. He also advised the members of another Teagasc event: Assuring Food Safety and Maximising Shelf-life which will take place in June, details of which will also be sent to members. 

FSAI Update

There were no additional issues to report to the members that have not already been addressed at the meeting. 


PaB advised the members that FSAI is liaising with inspectors to ensure that import controls are as efficient as possible when/if UK leaves EU. She also told members that the UK has assured Ireland that it will not be requiring export certs for at least nine months after it leaves. She also advised them about FSAI’s new Brexit section on and encouraged members to pass this information to their friends and colleagues. Also, their questions will be welcomed as this will help FSAI address issues that they might not already be aware of. Meanwhile there have been no discussions about the border as there will be no border. 

Any Other Business

Irish Wood for Smoking

Members were made aware that currently there is no Irish wood that can be used for smoking. Smokers are currently importing certified wood shavings from Germany. 


A list of NOTS courses for 2019 was distributed at the meeting. 


It was queried if FSAI will have a stand at Bloom as it could be worthwhile for FSAI to have a presence at it as there is a large part of this event food related. The meeting was advised that FSAI doesn’t have a presence at Bloom.

Noted: It was noted and welcomed that Eileen Lippert was now PA to the (FSAI) CEO, but despite this new role she continues to support the work of the Artisan Forum.

Date of Next Meeting

Agreed: The next meeting will take place on 23rd July 2019 in the FSAI.