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Artisan Forum - 24th January 2019

Minutes of the Artisan Forum meeting, 24th January 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, Raw Milk Ireland (ER)
  • 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)


  • Hugh Maguire, ACBI (HM)
  • Eoin Bird, The Wooded Pig (EB)
  • Dorothy Guina Dornan, FSAI (DGD)
  • Jane Murphy, Cais (JMur) 
  • Jeffa Gill, Durrus Cheese (JG)
  • Declan Ryan, Arbutus Breads (DR)
  • Simone Kelly, Rocket Foods, (SiK)

In Attendance

  • Eileen Lippert, FSAI (EL)
  • Tim Camon, FSAI (TC)
  • Emer O’Reilly, FSAI (EO’R)
  • Tom Burgess, Cais (TB)
  • Charlie Kealy, Donegal Co. Co. (CK)


William Cleary was welcomed to the meeting as this was his first. The Chair also expressed sympathy to both Dearbhla Reynolds and Jeffa Gill as their mothers recently passed away. 


Agreed: The minutes were agreed subject to an amendment on the second page which will be sent to the members for final sign-off.


Environmental Health Training

A letter to DIT as discussed at the last meeting has been prepared by JM and is awaiting approval from senior management in the FSAI. The members stressed the urgency and importance of this issue and the fact that the syllabus is set should not delay progressing this matter. Members would welcome the opportunity of engaging with course lecturers to make them familiar with the sometimes unique practices and techniques specific to artisan food production. Members queried if they could train some EHOs on the ground and gave examples of how some members could liaise with various bodies. Reference was made to the UK model and it was felt that this could be easy to arrange. 

Action: A copy of the draft letter will be circulated to the members for information. 

Irish Pig Producers

The members are very anxious to see highest possible welfare standards put in place for all animals and particularly concerned about pig welfare and welcome initiatives surrounding same, the members also highlighted the lack of free range pig farming in Ireland compared with the UK. However the members do not feel that at this stage of development that there would be a necessity for the forum to consult on the WG that Ms Luff is establishing, additionally, animal welfare is not within the FSAI remit. Two members of the forum ER and MR expressed their willingness to Ms Luff to review any proposed documentation informally outside of the remit of the forum.

Agreed: When the WG has completed its work, Ms Luff should then contact the Forum which might then be in a position to engage. FSAI will pass on this information to Ms Luff. 

Fresh Blood Pudding

Action: Members would raise this issue with Slow Food and revert. It was commented upon that there might be issues in adding the definition to FSAI’s Guidance on marketing terms, but it is more important to have an agreed definition and then it can be decided where it will be published. Awaiting definition approval from the Craft Butchers of Ireland.

Sourdough Definition

Action: DR will discuss this with his bakery colleagues and revert.

Action: Both of the above definitions will be on the agenda for the next meeting of the Forum.

Fermented Foods

The Guidance Note on this topic will have to be delayed as due to staff changes in the FSAI there is no-one to do the work. When appropriate staff are recruited this will be prioritised. Meanwhile, DR will prepare information in advance so that work can commence as quickly as possible. Members expressed their disappointment with this delay.

Action: FSAI senior management will be made aware of Members disappointment.

Plastic food covering

The members sent get well soon wishes to DGD. 

Action: The issue of plastic food covering will be on the agenda for the next meeting. 

Milk Monitoring Programme in Cork

Members were advised that the reason this programme ceased is due to a lack of resources. Cork Co. Co. needs to push this issue in order for it to resume. However, this programme should be highlighted as it was a good news story in that no issues were found. Members commented that there were suspicions as to why the programme ceased and these need to be quelled. 

Action: FSAI will source the report and send it to the members for info. 


As this was the first meeting for WC, he was encouraged to contact the FSAI with any issues he would like to raise. 

Microbiological Sampling of Cheese

Agreed: FSAI advised that the Scientific Report on this topic is at the publication stage. CAIS tabled its position paper on the matter and this was discussed, along with the matter of quantities of product being taken for sampling. The need for discourse between inspectors and producers was highlighted and reiterated the need for training. Some possible solutions were proposed and discussed and members agreed this could be an excellent topic for a training day. 

Action: The beekeeping and CAIS representatives should take some of the potential solutions proposed at this meeting and raise them with their members for further discussions. 

FACE Conference

The details for this conference are not yet available, but if possible, TC will attend. JB spoke about a spectrometer that is being developed to test the nutrient content of food which was discussed at a recent conference he attended. The Real Oxford Farming Conference was suggested as a very useful conference for a rep. from the FSAI to attend and DA will pass on the details. 


Charlie Kealey, County Vet. Inspector in Donegal Co. Co. was introduced and he proceeded to give his presentation where he shared how the on-farm slaughter of poultry in small quantities has developed in Co. Donegal. The main points include:

  • There are four registered poultry slaughter premises in Co. Donegal - all are family run and one is free range 
  • Three of the businesses are seasonal and one is all year round 
  • An outline of the basic requirements for on-farm slaughter
  • A summary of the relevant legislation that applies
  • Photographic examples of premises that outline how FBOs are adhering to the main points of the legislation

Action: A copy of the presentation will be circulated to the members after Mr Kealey has amended it to comment on issues relating to drainage that is of interest to the members. 

Several queries and comments followed the presentation, one of which related Reg. 158 of 2017 which had exemptions re poultry. 

Action: FSAI will check out the aforementioned legislation and revert to the members. 

Much discussion took place about the viability and legalimpediments to small/mobile slaughterhouses. 

The members thanked Mr Kealey for his informative presentation.


Agreed: DA elaborated upon this topic where some butchers feel they are being asked to spend more on their premises than the business is worth. JM advised that these butchers contact him directly. 


TB addressed this agenda item. He queried the benefits and the needs of PCR testing and what course of action would be taken if VTEC was found in food. JM attempted to address these queries andnoted that the science in this area was evolving rapidly a current development was towards Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). WGS has proven to be a very useful tool in identifying outbreaks. . He added that risk management decisions are based on the advice of the FSAI’s Scientific Committee, who have a publication on this matter in the process of publication. 

Members expressed concern that PCR testing will be introduced and this was discussed at length and several scenarios and unintended consequences were explained. It was suggested that an agreed protocol be prepared, but members agreed it should wait until they have sight of the Scientific Committee’s report. 

Action: A copy of the report will be circulated to the members when it is available and FSAI will try to arrange for LO’C to attend the next meeting of the Artisan Forum to address their queries. 


KB informed the members that organic farm walks are being organised by Teagasc and copies of the flyers for these walks were tabled at the meeting. He also informed the members of a large research programme on campylobacter reduction in poultry farms and that a training programme for poultry producers is planned for the end of the year. There was an enquiry whether there were any variances between free-range, organic and large poultry producers for campylobacter. 

Action: EL will circulate a copy of the flyer to the members and KB will revert with reply re variances in campylobacter in free-range, organic and large poultry producers. It was also recommended that Teagasc contact MO’R with a view to taking part in the campylobacter research.


There were no major issues to report to the members other than FSAI has been receiving queries relating to alcohol levels in some kombuchas. 


FSAI had nothing additional to add to what is already in the public domain. Members expressed fear that practices such as chlorination of chickens might be allowed in the UK after Brexit and  then creep into Ireland. 


Butchers Apprenticeships

JM made the members aware of this initiative being supported by ACBI. Apprenticeships in other crafts were recommended and it was suggested that apprentices be paid a stipend. Regarding this issue, members were advised to contact Ministers Halligan, Bruton and Solas. 

Action: This led to another discussion about training and JB will talk to his contacts and Sean McGloin about the possibility of SB getting involved in training for National Organic Training Skillnet ( 

Residue Testing in Main Crop Potatoes

TC addressed the queries raised here. He suggested that some of the concerns of the members could be included in the national surveillance monitoring schemes that FSAI is involved with. These include gramoxone and biocides used in the dairy industry.

Members expressed concern about the illegal trade in agrichemicals which people on the ground are aware of and added that this area needs more surveillance.

Labelling of E Numbers

SB gave the background to this issue. EO’R explained that according to FIC, where food additives are used in a product they must be indicated firstly by their category e.g. Preservative, Colour, Emulsifier, etc and this indication must be followed by the specific name or E number of the food additive in question. The only exception to this is where the additive is from one of the named EU allergens and in those cases the food additive must be indicated by its category name followed by its specific name, e.g. Preservative: sodium metabisulphite , the use of an E number is not permitted.

This requirement to indicate the category followed by specific name or E number has been a requirement in EU legislation since the 31st December 1994.

Action: This led to concerns being expressed about the practice of dipping prawns in sodium metabisulphite and FSAI will pass this concern onto SFPA.

Agreed: Include the issue of home delivery of foods and allergens on to the agenda of the next meeting. 

Craft Brewing

While members realise that it’s not a priority at the moment, they would like guidelines for craft brewers/brewing to be considered at some point in the future.

Cooking Over Fire

DA explained that she has heard of two restaurants thinking of cooking over an open fire and who should the owners liaise with. She was advised that their first port of call should be their local EHO and then if they have further queries, to contact DGD.

Action: EL will advise the members of the next meeting of the Enforcement Consistency Group. 

Risk Management and Raw Milk

This issue was addressed under PCR testing. 

Water Usage in Horticultural Holdings

JB raised this issue. A horticultural premises he knows recently received a bill of €2000 from Irish Water and an additional charge of €2000 for the treatment of waste water. JB was advised that the horticulturers should challenge this with Irish Water.


Agreed: The next meeting will take place on 16th April 2019 in the FSAI.