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Artisan Forum - 24 September 2015

Minutes of the Artisan Forum Meeting, 24 September 2015.


Wayne Anderson, FSAI (WA) Chair
Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School (DA)
Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery (SB)
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)
Michael Gleeson, Federation of Bee-keepers Associations in Ireland


Jeffa Gill, Durrus Cheese (JG)
John Matthews, FSAI (JM)
Raymond O’Rourke, Taste Council (RO’R)
Sean Kent, Poultry breeder (SK)


Eileen Lippert, FSAI (EL)
Ted Massey, DAFM (TM)
Donal Lynch, DAFM (DL)
Dorothy Guina Dornan, FSAI (DGD)
Eddie O’Neill, Teagasc (EO’N)
Tim Camon, FSAI (TC)
Mary Montaut (Bee-keeper) (MM)
Sinead Murphy, FSAI, (SM)
Kenneth Keavy, Green Earth Organic (KK)
Jim Ryan, Bee-keeper, (JR)


Noted: The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and invited everyone to introduce themselves.


Noted: Mr Massey was introduced to the members and he proceeded to give his presentation, which included the following points:

  • DAFM’s interactions with bee-keepers
  • Controls under the FSAI service contract
  • Financial controls
  • National Apiculture Programme
  • Dealing with other Member States
  • The honey bee colony – queen bee, worker bees and drone bees
  • Ireland’s bee-keeping population
  • Figures on bee colonies kept by bee-keepers in Ireland in 2011
  • Census information on where the majority of bee-keepers are located in Ireland
  • Data on honey production in Ireland by county in 2011
  • Honey output estimates – the farm gate value
  • The main pests and diseases that affect bees – varroa, nosema, foulbroods, small hive beetle, tropilaelaps mites
  • Details of the new Sentinel Apiary Programme
  • Monitoring of colony losses
  • Elaborated on the COLOSS survey
  • Data on Ireland’s over-winter colony losses
  • An analysis of 2014-15 losses
  • Likely causes of varroa
  • Information about weather and Irish over-winter colony losses
  • Actions bee-keepers can take to help prevent and/or reduce colony losses.

Action: The presentation will be circulated to the members by EL.

Noted: Several questions and comments followed the presentation and TM addressed them all, for example:

  • Difficulties involved in monitoring bees given they can forage in an area between 3-10km;
  • The situation regarding bumble bees and other native breeds is serious in Ireland and this has an impact on wild honey;
  • Feeding pure white sugar to bees is perfectly healthy for bees. Also, it was noted it’s very dangerous to feed bees any honey except their own;
  • Ivy is very good for bees;
  • DAFM interaction with EFSA is generally via the pesticides section and it has no direct input into EFSA studies on bee health.

Action: There was also concern about the effects of pesticide residues with regards to bees and honey. Members suggested that a guidance note should be developed to stress the importance of ivy, dandelions, etc. to biodiversity, including bees. TM will bring this recommendation to his colleagues in DAFM and will suggest that DAFM could liaise with Biodiversity Ireland.

Noted: Members were advised to examine their hives twice a year in order to check on the health of their bees.


Noted: The members were introduced to Donal Lynch from DAFM who gave a presentation on pesticides. The main points included:

  • Definitions for plant protection products (PPPs) and biocidal products;
  • An explanation of what pesticides are;
  • The regulatory background;
  • PPPs registered in Ireland;
  • The background to PPPs;
  • How a new PPP is registered;
  • The Sustainable Use Directive;
  • Details of Articles 4 and 5 of the National Action Plan (NAP);
  • Details on Article 5 which deals with training and education;
  • An explanation of Article 8 which deals with the inspection of equipment;
  • An elaboration on Article 11 which focuses on the protection of water;
  • How the consumer is protected by use Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs);
  • How MRLs are established and their purpose;
  • The role of the Pesticide Control Laboratory; 
  • The sampling of domestic and imported produces and results from the 2013 Monitoring Programme;
  • The reasons for MRL breaches;
  • Results from the Monitoring Programme of 2014 for organic produce;
  • A discussion on the disposal of hazardous waste;
  • An outline of regulatory considerations.

Action: EL will circulate the presentation to the members.

Noted: Much discussion took place and it was reiterated that pesticides are highly regulated – the legislation is more stringent than cosmetic legislation. Some members expressed scepticism about the evaluation process of a new pesticide, but they were assured that it is extremely thorough. There were several questions which were addressed and answered by DL and clarified that if a consumer has a query about someone using pesticides, they might be able to get information via registers kept by DAFM and/or retailers. Some of the issues raised were: 

  • Pesticides in flour;
  • Natural methods of dealing with bracken;
  • Hoarding of pesticides;
  • Lack of controls on safe usage in the West of Ireland;
  • Irish position on glyphosate ‘Round-up’;
  • Why there are different MRLs for different crops;
  • Health risks of glyphosate;
  • The use of glyphosate for wheat-ripening;
  • Harvesting withdrawal periods;
  • Communications between farmers and neighbours regarding spraying/spreading, etc. 

Noted: Reference was made to a new guidance note on applying pesticides in wet areas. This led to discussions about water testing and that the EPA publishes the results from all the local authorities.

Action: EL will send EPA link to the members for information.

Action: SB had a query about testing of fish for pesticides and TC agreed to revert to her with information.

Noted: Members expressed concerns that Ireland is not taking action on glyphosate like France, Denmark or California and expressed disappointment that independent research on the pesticide has not been carried out.

Action: If members have any additional questions or queries on the topic of pesticides, please send them to EL.


Noted: WA advised the members that S.I. 306/2015 was recently passed by the Minister for Agriculture. KS expressed his pleasure with this development and feels it is very sensible. There is a requirement for small producers to get approval from DAFM so that they can be monitored and a guidance note will be developed by the relevant stakeholders and their representatives. The members thanked the FSAI for their work on this issue. 

Noted: There is no update on Verotoxigenic E.coli and PCR testing at EU level as the next meeting on this issue will take place in October. 

Action: The Artisan Forum members would like to arrange a meeting about this once more information on this issue is available.


FSAI new strategic plan

Noted: The members of the Artisan Forum will be invited to comment on FSAI’s new strategic plan before it is published.


Noted: The issue of apprenticeships was raised with Ministers by DR and DR elaborated on this issue and added that the baking sector is one of the areas in which apprenticeships will operate. He elaborated on a bakery that is going to pilot this initiative and that they will use the Scottish system as a guideline and DR will be involved in setting this up.


Action: SK met BH on behalf of DA to discuss poultry. As SK is not at this meeting, he will provide an update at the next meeting.

Vaccination of Irish cows

Action: SK will revert to the members on this issue at the next meeting.


Noted: The draft agenda was agreed subject to additions to AOB.


Noted: EO’N provided an update on Teagasc initiatives that are of interest to the members. These include:

  • Butchery skills course;
  • Natural cheese-making course – this is now a four-day course. It used to be a three-day course.
  • Teagasc and Safefood are in discussions about product recall training to hopefully take place in 2016.
  • Foodworks with Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland – this is for mentoring programme for potential food businesses.
  • Moorepark will hold training on food product development facilities. 

Action: EL will circulate information on these initiatives when they become available.


Noted: WA informed the group that Dave Lang has retired and resigned from the Artisan Forum. Hugh Maguire, Honorary President of ACBI has been nominated as his replacement.

Agreed: Members ratified the nomination but would like to nominate their own alternate.

Noted: MA has retired from the Artisan Forum.

Action: WA to review membership of the Artisan Forum with DA

Noted: JB raised the matter of a letter written by Caroline Robinson to Frank Macken in DAFM. The Forum members asked WA to write to Frank Macken in support of a meeting between DAFM and organic growers.

Action: JB will forward a copy of the letter to EL in order for WA to write to Frank Macken

Noted: Discussion took place on the need to make technical decisions during inspection on a case-by-case basis as ‘one size does not fit all’.


Country of origin labelling

Noted: One of the members had a query about ‘Made in the EU’ on a jar of pasta sauce. FSAI clarified that country of origin traceability only applies to products of animal origin. That otherwise the information was voluntary and an EU designation was allowable.

Food Information for Consumers legislation (FIC)

Action: DGD raised the matter of nutrition labelling of pre-packed foods. She elaborated that there are exemptions from nutrition labelling for ‘small and local’ producers. DoH needs to define ‘small’ and ‘local’ and FSAI invited members to submit their comments on what they think is ‘small’ and ‘local’. Members were advised to meet to discuss this between themselves and then submit their ideas to DGD.

Action: DGD will prepare and email outlining the main issues for the members to consider on this issue.

Definition of sourdough

Noted: DR elaborated on this issue. He stated that there are some bakeries claiming that their bread is sourdough when it is not. He added that no health claims are being made on these bakery items, though there is a possibility that sourdough is healthier than normal bread.

Action: DGD needs to look into this matter and will revert at the next meeting. DR will send some examples of the claims being made to EL.

Gluten-free bread

Noted: Concerns were expressed that regular bakeries are producing gluten-free bread and this was a cross contact issue. The members were advised that this is ok as long as the levels of gluten in the gluten free bread are below legal limits. Members were advised that for a small fee, a Public Analyst Laboratory can check bread for gluten levels.

Action: EL will circulate a leaflet on gluten-free to the members.

Food allergen testing

Noted: SB recently came across some information about allergen testing. She gave the information to FSAI to check out. EL took the information and will revert at the next meeting.

Free range and organic hens

Noted: The issue of free range, organic hens was clarified for the members. The term free range and organic may not be used. Hens can be either free range or organic in EU law, but not both.


Noted: WA advised the members that FSAI will be facilitating a consultation on calorie menu labelling for the Department of Health.

Snail farming

Noted: Details about an event on snail farming, taking place in Athlone was circulated to the members.


Noted: The dates for the next meetings will be arranged by doodle poll. Members requested that meeting NOT be held on a Thursday.