Skip to main content

Retail Forum Meeting - 15th Feb 2012

Minutes of the Retail Forum Meeting - 15th Feb 2012

TIME: 11.00 am



Lisa O’Connor, FSAI (LOC) [Chair]
Lynda Kenny, Musgrave (LK)
Elaine Clohosey, BWG Foods (EC)
Denise Lord, Gala Retail Services (DL)
Rosaleen Fagan Musgraves (RF))
Suzanne Cullen, Superquinn (SC)
Allan Davies, Tesco (AD)
Stuart Challenor, Tesco (SC)
Sandra Murphy, Lidl (SM)
Selena McAndrew-Burke, ADM Londis (SMcA)
Rob McEvoy, Topaz (RMcE)
Peter Wight, Marks & Spencer (PW)
Mary Daly, Dunnes Stores (MD)


Dorothy Guina Dornan, FSAI (DGD)
Mary Flynn, FSAI, (MF)
John Matthews, FSAI, (JM)
Veronica Maher, FSAI (VM)


Stephen Lynam, IBEC (SL)


Eileen Lippert (EL)

Minutes of the Last Meeting

Agreed: The minutes of the last meeting were agreed without amendment.

Matters Arising

Seminar on Microcriteria and Shelf-life

LO’C referred to the Shelf-life seminar which took place in November of last year and to relevant FSAI Guidance Notes 18 on shelf-life which has recently been revised and 26 on microbiological criteria.

Action: Should a member wish to receive hard copies of the above mentioned guidance notes, please contact EL.

Noted: It was queried if FSAI would be updating its guidance on labelling.

Action: LO’C will check this out and revert. Members also requested an update on labelling from AMB of the FSAI at the next meeting. Also requested was a hard copy of the bakery guidance document and DGD will provide this.

Calories on Menus – LO’C and MF

LO’C referred to the consultation which the FSAI recently launched on the issue of calories on menus. Hard copies of the accompanying documents were distributed at the meeting for information. MF joined the meeting and explained the four principles of the initiative:
1. Calorie information is provided for all standard food and drink items sold;
2. Calorie information is displayed clearly and prominently at the ‘point of choice’ for the consumer;
3. Calorie information is provided per portion or per meal;
4. Information on how many calories an average person needs in a day is given to help consumers ‘make sense’ of calories on menus.

She clarified all the issues and questions raised and confirmed that there will be no requirements to label K joules. The initiative will initially be on a voluntary basis and will pertain to standard food and drink in chain restaurants/cafes or outlets that have more than a certain number of premises. It is hoped to have it in place by the end of the year. It will be reviewed and the Dept of Health will decide whether legislation is necessary. Enforcement was also discussed and it was confirmed that some tolerances will be permitted.

A guidance document will be issued later in the year to address the issue of tolerances for micronutrients.

Action: Stakeholders were urged to complete the questionnaire in order to make the FSAI aware of technical issues that could arise, as to date, the majority of respondents have been consumers.

There was a query about sugar tax and members were advised to send their queries on this directly to the Department of Health.

New Measures on Sprouted Seeds

DGD updated the members on the proposed measures on sprouted seeds as a result of the outbreak in Germany in 2011. The EU is preparing four new regulations:
a. Hygiene measures;
b. Traceability;
c. The need for importation certificates for seed imported from a third country;
d. Microbiological criteria.

Approval of sprout production will be required. It was also clarified that it should be assumed that all sprouts should be classed as ready-to-eat. Sprouted seeds are considered high risk due to the process they undergo. LO’C also updated members on accredited laboratories.

Action: EL will circulate the legislation to the members when it is available.

Legislation Update

A copy of the legislation update was circulated to the members for information and LO’C elaborated on the relevant points for the members.

Action: EL to circulate the legislation update electronically to the members.

Action: PW had a query for PJOM of FSAI regarding food information for consumers. FSAI will ask for the query to be addressed electronically, or for PJOM to attend the next meeting of the Forum. There was also a query for PJOM about honey.
There followed a query regarding Reg. 853 regarding cutting plants owned by retail outlets. This issue is more relevant to mainland Europe than Ireland and the FSAI considers that the situation should not be changed and that retailers should continue to be exempt.

It was questioned if there is likely to be any update on the issue of providing best before dates on ice-cream. It is likely this is not yet in the pipeline and FSAI was asked to write to an ice-cream manufacturer requested that they put best before dates on their products.

Packaging of Poultrymeat

LO’C gave a summary of the recent meeting of the Campylobacter Steering Group.

Action: EL to circulate the agreed minutes of the Campylobacter Steering Group to the members of the Retail Forum.

The issue of retailers self-packing chickens was raised and retailers stated that very few retailers sell loose whole chickens. They tend to sell loose fillets, etc. Loose whole chickens are mainly for sale at independent butchers.

Action: FSAI to revert to IFA to enquire about the nature of premises they referred to at the Campylobacter SG meeting.

Members were asked about the impact of the introduction of leak-proof packaging on the hygiene of display shelves. All agreed that the level of leakage of meat juices has greatly reduced. One of the members enquired if there would be a repeat of the HSE surveillance and FSAI said that this was likely in the future. The issue of sharing data with the retailers was also discussed and this will be discussed in more detail in the FSAI. LO’C mentioned that the data from the survey of Campylobacter in retail raw poultry meat was being analysed and the report would be published later in the year.

The effectiveness of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) in reducing Campylobacter was discussed. LO’C updated the members on research findings presented at a seminar on Campylobacter hosted by Safefood in 2011. A poultry processor attending the seminar pointed out that the gas mix shown to be most effective was not one being used by poultry processors and noted that in their plant, whole chickens were only packaged in MAP on Thursdays & Fridays, to extend shelf life over the weekend. Members were asked if MAP was something they would consider using more extensively for poultry products. Retailers were of the view that currently all pre-packaged fillet products used MAP but not whole chickens. Retailers explained that there was a customer preference for fresh whole chickens.

Action: Members are asked to revert to FSAI about which of their poultry products are packaged in MAP and when (i.e. only certain days of the week). They were also requested to provide the gas mix used and the typical shelf life of MAP packaged products.

The issue of labelling MAP chicken was raised, as was the matter of labelling recommendations. Members were also notified that the HPSC has been requested to conduct a national case control study, to identify current risk factors for Campylobacter infection. Crust-freezing was also discussed.

Action: Members to revert about the visibility of safe handling instructions at time of purchase and also to comment if their products contain information regarding washing chicken. EL to send a reminder about this and members should liaise with their suppliers on this issue.

Action: The members raised the issue of the hot water treatment of birds and of the removal of neck flaps from whole birds. These suggestions will be raised at the next meeting of the Campylobacter Steering Group and the pros and cons debated.


Members were given a brief update on the recent watermelon outbreak. Members were advised that only watermelons from Brazil were affected.

The recent case in the high court about packaging and plastic bags was raised and some brief discussion took place. This will possibly be discussed at a future meeting.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will take place on 20 June at 11:00 in the FSAI board room.