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Minutes of the Retail Forum - 14th March 2023

11am, 14th March 2023


  • Members Present    FSAI Staff Present
  • Garreth Coburn, Sysco    Rob Phillips
  • Frances Hayes, BWG    Alison Connor
  • Ash Stretton, M&S    Nuala Collins
  • Catriona Norris, Avoca    Marta Martin-Aragon
  • Catherine Poole, Aldi    Emelie Teno
  • Tara Buckley, RGDATA    SinĂ©ad Murphy
  • Aoife Noonan, Lidl    Karl McDonald
  • Antoinette Kennedy, Aldi    Mary Lenehan
  • Jenni O’Brien, Avoca    
  • Claire Briody, Tesco    
  • Lucy O’Connor, Musgrave    
  • Dimitrios Vouris    
  • Samira Nicolo, IBEC    

1. Introduction

Rob welcomed everyone to the meeting and reported on some staffing changes in FSAI.  Elaine Madden has been appointed to the role of Technical Executive, RMCB and Clodagh Crehan is now the Regulatory Affairs Manager.

2. Draft Minutes 1st December 2022

The draft minutes were approved with 1 minor amendment to the Ukraine Crisis text.

•    FSAI has started work with DAFM on the wine labelling regulations and will update the Group as necessary.  
•    FSAI doesn’t suggest adding barcodes to food alerts as the purpose of the alert is to inform consumers and this could lead to confusion.

3. Ukraine Crisis

FSAI is considering introducing an appendix to the Food Safety Management Plan to allow for lab availability.

FSAI will review and update the food labelling flexibility guidance and there was a discussion on the industry experiences.  It was reported that businesses are becoming less reliant on flexibility and are becoming more agile at finding other suppliers.  Retailers are experiencing uncertainty across all Agri-products, not just sunflower oil.

•    Retailers to feedback any experiences to FSAI to facilitate the review of the food labelling guidance.

4. Sustainability

Marta reported on the EU Commission new Circular Economy Action Plan and the National Food Waste Prevention Plan.  The Food Safety Authority of Ireland is committed to support the implementation of the relevant aspects of the roadmap. FSAI is keen to collaborate with Retailers and will be circulating an anonymous survey to see what’s happening at retail level.  There was a discussion on the types of initiatives already being undertaken by Retailers to reduce food waste including removing BB dates on fruit and veg and reduced pricing on items which are still in good condition but past BB date.  FSAI will send the survey in the next few months and all information will be treated as anonymous.

5. Cross Contamination Risks

Mary Lenehan, FSAI joined the meeting to raise awareness of the cross-contamination risks associated with sauce sachets being packaged in contact with raw meat and referred to a recent recall of frozen poultry product. 

6. Windsor Framework

Rob reported that FSAI is planning on providing feedback to the Department of Health on the regulations and asked the Retailers for their initial thoughts on the challenges or benefits of the Framework.  The Group reported there are big labelling implications, and they are seeing differing interpretations of the labelling regs.  The Group noted there is confusion on the labelling and there is clarity needed.

•    FSAI thanked the Group for their input into the discussion and will draft a detailed response.

7. Food Safety Consultative Council

Saskia van Ruth, Wageningen University gave a presentation at the FSCC on the developments in food fraud detection and noted the emphasis has moved to prevention.  Food Fraud is likely to be the subject of the FSCC Open Meeting and the FSAI welcomed any feedback the Group may have on this topic.  

8. Reformulation

Nuala Collins gave a presentation on reformulation and noted the targets are on the FSAI website.  FSAI is grateful for the Retailers interest and participation in this area.  FSAI will undertake monitoring as part of this project and need permission to enter stores, photograph, save data, analyse and report.  The Retailers asked FSAI to avoid the stores in Q4 Christmas time as the stores are too busy and FSAI agreed monitoring will take place in Q3.  FSAI will inform the stores in advance of their arrival.  FSAI also needs sales weighted data/volume of sales 2015 and 2025 and asked Retailers to consider making this information available to FSAI.

•    FSAI to email a draft permission letter for Retailers to edit, sign and return to FSAI.
•    FSAI to discuss if individual reports can be shared with Retailers.

9. FIC Update

There was a meeting on the 8th March 2023 and FSAI supports the proposed amendments.

10. AOB

There was a discussion on sulphites in breakfast sausages and non-compliances with FIC regulations.  FSAI is developing guidance to be published on our website on the consumption of raw French beans as they contain lectin.
Actions: Rob to discuss the sulphites with Emer and feedback to this Group at the next meeting.