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Artisan Forum - 25th October 2018

Minutes of the Artisan Forum Meeting, 25th October 2018.


  • John Matthews, FSAI (JMat), Chair
  • Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School (DA)
  • Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery (SB)
  • Jeffa Gill, Durrus Cheese (JG)
  • Kevin Brennan, Teagasc (KB)
  • John Brennan, Leitrim Organic Farming Co-op (JB)
  • Elisabeth Ryan, Raw Milk Ireland (ER)
  • Hugh Maguire, ACBI, (HM)
  • Dearbhla Reynolds, Cultured Club (DR)
  • Mary Regan, Regan Organic Farms, (MR)
  • Donal Lehane, Food NPD Teo (DL)
  • Sean Kent, Poultry Hatchery (SK)
  • Declan Ryan, Arbutus Breads (DR)
  • Simone Kelly, Rocket Foods, (SiK)


  • William Cleary, Irish Beekeeping (WC)
  • Eoin Bird, The Wooded Pig (EB)
  • Dorothy Guina Dornan, FSAI (DGD)
  • Jane Murphy, Cais (JMur) 

In Attendance

  • Eileen Lippert, FSAI (EL)
  • Tim Camon, FSAI (TC)
  • Fintan Moran, DIT
  • Siobhan Luff, Pigs Ireland
  • Mary Lenahan, FSAI 


Simone Kelly was welcomed to the meeting as this was her first one. The Chair also acknowledged the passing of Myrtle Allen and commented on her contribution to the artisan cause in Ireland. On behalf of the FSAI, he expressed his condolences to her family. 


Fintan Moran, from the DIT School of Food Science and Environmental Health was introduced to the members and he gave a short presentation detailing:

  • The role of Environmental Health Officers
  • The programme structure over four years
  • New partnership with National Hygiene Partnership

A copy of the EHO programme structure was circulated to the members at the meeting for further information. 

Several questions and comments followed the presentation and these included:

  • How small businesses have to comply with the same standards as larger businesses
  • EHOs are not cognisant of artisan producers specialist procedures and practices
  • There is no training, either a module or a lecture, on artisan production in the current programme structure. Can EHOs be trained or can DIT lecturers work together to take into account businesses size and speciality/traditional practices? Artisan producers are more than happy to help and liaise with this. 
  • Artisans are traditional food producers and are very important to the Irish food sector. They complement and promote the role of Irish food and are held up as a flagship for Ireland Inc. Big businesses can piggyback onto the reputation for their marketing. 
  • Some artisans accepts interns from foreign universities for 5-6 weeks every year where they work and observe her practices in exchange for bed and board
  • Could the differences in artisan production be weaved into every lecture thus making student EHOs aware that there are variances?
  • One of the most effective methods would be to train the lecturers in order for them to pass on the knowledge to their students

Agreed/Action: There is a need and a willingness on both sides to collaborate. FSAI will write to DIT in order to move this issue along, adding that the Forum members will assist with this. It is proposed to set up a working group to progress this issue. 

The members thanked Mr Moran for coming in and listening to their issues. 


Ms Luff introduced herself and explained her background and how she would like to give support to small pig producers as currently there are no standards or structures available. She raised issues regarding the labelling of artisan pork products and the prices being charged and how she is seeking INAB accreditation for animal welfare standards. She requested a volunteer from this forum to join her Working Group and distributed a copy of her Research and Development Initiative for a Quality Assurance Scheme of Welfare Standard for Pigs.

Action: Ms Luff will send an email to EL for circulation to the Forum members which will outline what she is seeking. The members will then nominate an appropriate person to join the aforementioned working group. It was recommended that a representative from the FSAI should also be on the group, but FSAI will consider this as animal welfare is not within the FSAI remit.


Dr Lenahan was introduced to the members and proceeded to give her presentation, the main points of which included:

  • The definition for shelf-life
  • What influences shelf-life
  • What foods require shelf-life testing
  • Shelf-life in relation to the legislation
  • The differences between use by dates and best before dates
  • The food safety criteria as set out in Reg. 2073/2005
  • Explanations of what is listeriosis
  • Annex II of 2073/2005 – the studies
  • An explanation of what is a challenge study
  • An explanation of durability studies
  • Elaborations on ready-to-eat foods and L. monocytogenes and the three categories they can fall into
  • A more in-depth explanation of food category 1.2
  • Microbiological guidelines where there are no relevant legal criteria and where to find them
  • What is covered in FSAI Guidance Note No. 18
  • Shelf-life in logical steps as per Guidance Note No. 18
  • Guidance on how to choose a lab
  • Other FSAI resources, including online learning

Action: A copy of the presentation will be circulated to the members. 

Several queries followed the presentation, one of which related to the category that cheese belongs to and ML dealt with this. She also confirmed that food business operators are responsible for the dates that they set. 

Action: There were two queries which EL will follow up – 1) the number of cases of Listeria in Ireland in 2017 and 2) does USA still have zero tolerance for listeria in exported foods. 

There was a query about how a small producer, using seasonal produce, can carry out practical shelf-life testing. It was explained that it depends on the food and gave an example of soup. Not every soup has to be tested, it depends on the soup. TC and JM also made some clarification in that experience and judgement can suffice in making a decision once all this is written down as the basis for the decision. Another query about shelf-life testing of burgers and meatballs raised the importance of historical data and it was stressed and reiterated the importance of writing down everything regarding shelf-life. Members were also advised, that if they are getting products tested, always send a ‘worst case scenario’ sample.

The matter of best before dates adding to food waste was raised and it was acknowledged that it is a balancing act between food safety and food quality.


Agreed: The minutes were agreed subject to an amendment on the second page. 


Black pudding

Noted: It was explained that very few producers are using fresh blood for black pudding but butchers would like a legal definition for fresh blood pudding. It was stated that Murcia uses fresh blood for puddings and it would be useful to find out what definitions and regulations are used. 

Action: This is an issue that needs to be discussed internally in the FSAI and with DAFM and DoH. FSAI will also have another look at an email on the issue which ER sent to the FSAI. It was also added that if FSAI arranges a meeting with DAFM on this issue, a member of the Forum will also need to attend. 

Agreed: The definitions for fresh blood pudding and sourdough could be included in the document on marketing terms and the members will confer with Slow Food Presidia on the latter definition. 

Amended terms of reference

Agreed: The amended draft terms of reference were agreed by the members. The new ToR will be placed onto the FSAI website. 

Mobile abattoirs

Action: At the previous meeting of the forum it was agreed that the Donegal Co. Co. vet would attend to speak about his experiences with mobile abattoirs but he was not available to attend today. He will be invited to attend the next meeting. JB, HM and JM prepared a note on this issue to submit to DAFM and members now have to include a question/request as to what it is they require. Members to submit their questions to EL who will then liaise with JB. EL will email the note to the members. 


Agreed: FSAI recognises that this food process is on the increase in Ireland and has agreed to develop guidance on the issue in 2019. DR will liaise with Karl McDonald of the FSAI. EL will put arrange contact with the artisans and Dr McDonald. 


Agreed/ Action: It was acknowledged that a definition for sourdough is required and as the starter is fermented, this could be addressed in the aforementioned guidance on fermented foods. There is no definition in the EU for sourdough and perhaps it could also be addressed as a marketing issue and include it in the document on marketing terms. 

The members of Real Bakers Ireland to agree a definition and revert to EL. 


Noted: TC addressed these two issues together and elaborated on the National Residue Testing Programme and the Veterinary Residue Testing Programme. He confirmed that there is no testing for Glyphosate as it is not present except at extremely low levels and besides it does not transfer to milk. He advised that testing of chlorate is becoming a concern and this issue is being looked at. He added that there are far greater priorities for testing than glyphosate and the risks are addressed based on risk to public health. Glyphosate is an issue that is of concern for the public, but not of major concern for scientists. He went on to explain how 400 pesticides are currently being tested and he explained how products with high maximum residue levels (MRLs) are assessed. 

Action: This led to several questions which were all addressed. DA also reminded FSAI that she is awaiting a reply to her query at the previous meeting regarding the use of plastic for covering food. Also, FSAI will enquire why the milk monitoring programme in Cork Harbour was cancelled. The results of the National Residue Control Plan for the last two years will be circulated to the members for information. Also, there was a query about the addition of folic acid to bread. This was elaborated upon and EL will send information to the members. 


KB advised that there was nothing additional to add since the previous meeting. 


There was nothing of relevance to the members. 


There was nothing to update the members with, other than they were advised to look at the Intertrade Ireland website to make themselves aware of WTO tariffs.



The Beekeepers Association emailed a query to the FSAI and JM has been liaising with their representatives and he confirmed that his query will be raised at the next liaison meeting between FSAI and DAFM. JB also informed the members that a beehive will now be considered as a livestock unit.

Public Health Alcohol Bill (PHAB)

FSAI confirmed that it does not yet know how this will be policed/implemented. 

Guidelines for microbreweries

This issue is not currently a priority for the FSAI, but it was stated that a definition of a craft brewer is needed. ER agreed to liaise with FSAI on this issue. 

Labelling query from an artisan producer

This query was emailed into the FSAI and EL will email the reply to the requester. Some additional clarifications to the request were made and these will be followed up by EL.

STEC testing/interpretation

JG referred to a position paper on this and she will submit it to the forum for information. She also raised the matter of the large quantities of cheese required for testing and this is very expensive for small producers. JM will enquire about this in-house. He added that there is no change to the current status of STEC testing, but the Scientific Committee report is in the pipeline and will be sent to the members for information when it is published. 

FACE congress

The members have suggested that the FSAI attend the FACE conference in Valencia in 2019. JM confirmed he will discuss this with senior management.

Enforcement Consistency Working Group

The next meeting of this WG will take place on 15th November and SK and DL will attend this as representatives of the Artisan Forum. 

Biological Farming Conference

JB circulated information about this conference which will take place 12-13th November. 


Agreed: The next meeting will take place in early January 2019 at a date to be agreed via doodle poll.