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Minutes of the FSAI Artisan Forum Meeting - 12th May 2011

Present

Wayne Anderson, FSAI (WA), Chair
Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School, (DA)
Raymond O’Rourke, Taste Council, (RO’R)
Liam Handy, ACBI (LH)
Michael Gleeson, Irish Beekeepers Association (MG)
Caroline Robinson, Farmers’ Market Stallholder (CR)
Isobel Fletcher, LEADER (IF)
Kevin Sheridan, Sheridan Cheese mongers (KS)
John Brennan, Leitrim Organic Centre (JB)
Declan Ryan, Arbutus Breads, (DR)
Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery, (SB)
Apologies: Myrtle Allen, Ballymaloe House, (MA)
Anthony Cresswell, Ummera Smokery (AC)
Frank Hederman, Belvelly Smoking (FH)
Michael Woulfe, Beekeeper ([MW]
Paul Fletcher, Premier Game, (PF)
Dave Lang, ACBI, (DL)
Esther Barron, Barron’s Bakery (EB)
Jeffa Gill, Durrus Cheese (JG)
Mary Burns, Ardrahan Cheese (and CAIS), (MB)
Tim Camon, FSAI, (TC)
Paddy Ward, Teagasc (PW)

In Attendance

Eileen Lippert, FSAI (EL)
John Matthews, FSAI (JM)
Dorothy Guina Dornan, FSAI (DGD)
Eibhlin O’Leary, FSAI (EO’L)
Karen McGillicuddy, FSAI (KMcG)
Alan Reilly, FSAI (AR)
Ciara McDonagh, Teagasc (CMcD)

1. Agree Minutes of Meeting of 28th October 2010

Agreed: The minutes were agreed without amendment.

2. Matters Arising

Noted: CR has commenced work to simplify the FSAI Guide to Food Law for Artisans and when she requires assistance from FSAI, she will inform WA who will allocate and FSAI staff member to assist. IF also offered to provide information to CR on this matter.

Action: CMcD from Teagasc will circulate details of its butchery course to EL for distribution to the members. Members were advised of a website called www.nots.ie which could be useful to the members.

Noted: The leaflet idea which was suggested by members at the last meeting was raised at a Taste Council meeting as agreed.

Noted: A query about getting water sampled came up and was addressed.

3. Agree Draft Agenda

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

4. Raw Liquid Milk Ban

Noted: The Artisan Forum members expressed their concern about an outright ban on the sale of raw milk for direct human consumption. They gave anecdotal evidence of the benefits of the product and stressed the need for free choice. Members were advised that it is currently legal to sell raw milk for direct human consumption; but that the FSAI has on public health grounds advised the Department of Health and Children to prohibit the sale of raw milk for direct human consumption. Practices in European countries and United States that permit the sale/consumption of raw milk were discussed. The FSAI highlighted the numbers of avoidable outbreaks of illness associated with this practice. Following much discussion, the artisans suggested that the same system used for raw milk cheeses could be applied to raw milk and this raised some issues. It was stressed that raw milk must come from disease-free herds. Members agreed with this and offered that they would be happy to abide by the most stringent controls during production and labelling. Several examples, both national and international of people (including older/immune-compromised and children) becoming ill were given by AR.

Noted: Members were advised that the FSAI does not make food safety policy and this was the role of the Departments of Health and Children as well as Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Members would need to consult with these Departments regarding the introduction of new regulations. The FSAI has already advised the Department of Health and it is for the Department of Health to decide how to proceed. DA advised the group of a meeting taking place in Prague in May on raw milk and suggested it would be useful for a representative from FSAI or DAFM to attend.

Action: Also, KS will arrange a meeting with Minister McEntee.

Noted: The Artisans thanked AR for coming to discuss the matter with them.

5. Legal Definitions of “Farmhouse”, “Traditional” and “Local”

Noted: A document entitled “Use of terms such as “farmhouse”, “traditional” and “local” on the labels of food products”, which was prepared by the FSAI was circulated to the members for information and discussion. RO’R was in a position to offer additional information on this topic and he added that this is an area of much confusion and advised it would be useful for the FSAI to prepare an Irish guidance for labelling, similar to the one done in the UK.

Noted: Beekeepers are experiencing much confusion with regards to the issue of “local” and MG was advised to contact Ted Massey in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. MG agreed to keep FSAI updated on beekeeping issues.

Agreed: WA agreed that if resources were still available, the FSAI would prepare Irish guidelines next year and RO’R will send information on this to the FSAI and will liaise with WA on the subject. RO’R expressed his appreciation to the FSAI for agreeing to carry out the work.

6. Salmonella in Duck Eggs

Noted: This issue has not gone away. There were 33 cases last year and two cases for far this month JM from FSAI provided a summary of the new legislation (SI no. 565 of 2010) pertaining to this issue along with the Code of Practice for Duck Table Egg Producers. The new legislation requires any duck egg producer who wants to sell duck eggs to have a salmonella control plan including flock testing certificates. WA clarified a few points in the legislation and advised members to go the FAQ section on www.fsai.ie for more information. Members were reminded no to wash duck eggs and to always hard boil them.

Action: EL to circulate the aforementioned documents to the members who were asked to circulate it amongst their network of producers and bring it to the attention of stall holders at farmers markets. FSAI will contact the ACBI and request that it circulates the document to its members.

7. Flexibility in the Hygiene Package Legislation

Noted: DA circulated to the FSAI documents from the EU entitled “Commission Staff Working Document on the Understanding of Certain Provisions on Flexibility provided in the Hygiene Package – FAQ Guidelines for FBOs and Competent Authorities”. WA clarified that the FSAI is aware of these documents and the FSAI is applying them. He also commented that it would be necessary for the various Government Departments to write national rules where appropriate so that smaller producers would be exempt from the full requirements of regulation 853/2004.

Noted: Members explained some issues that they are experiencing in producing safe food. They commented on the amount of paperwork that is required and also the length of inspections. Members also requested that EHOs be encouraged to advise FBOs on the least expensive method of fixing issues found on an inspection – e.g. instead of buying a refrigerated van, perhaps a cool box would suffice. The issue of inspections during trading hours at country markets was also raised. These inspections often mean that a stall holder is unable to sell any of its produce.

Action: Members were advised to contact DGD about any issues that individuals are experiencing.

Noted: The artisans raised the matter of speciality inspectors in order to promote the speciality foods sector in Ireland. It was proposed that Teagasc be requested to run a few classes on specialist production for EHOs at Cathal Brugha St.

Agreed & WA accepted this suggestion as a recommendation, but is not in a position to promise anything. DA will raise this issue at a meeting she will attend in Cathal Brugha St after this meeting.
Action: The attitudes of some inspectors concerns the members and it was queried if the members could meet with inspectors to discuss their concerns. It was stressed that good relationships between inspectors and producers was vital. FSAI agreed to raise this issue at HSE meeting in the future and will revert to the members.

8. Update on Artisan Support

Food Business Start-up Network

Noted: Eibhlin O’Leary from FSAI was introduced and gave a presentation. The main points included:

  • The aims of the network – to help small business; create an environment to help business grow; create jobs; reduce red tape; reduce administrative burden; reduce regulatory burden; too many inspections; joint inspections
  • Evidence provided on the increase of queries relating to starting up a business.
  • Evidence provided on the increase of businesses registered.
  • How Government helps business;
  • List a number of regulatory agencies;
  • The objective of the Food Business Start-up Network;
  • The scope of the network;
  • The first steps;
  • Questions for the Artisan Forum.

Noted: The members welcomed the initiative and advised that the website could be prepared using similar styles as those used at various music festivals. A tree and branch approach was recommended along with a Q&A orientated system. The need for plain English was stressed and the website should include information on taxation, planning, marketing, food safety, suppliers, etc. The need for the website to be responsive was highlighted. It was also strongly recommended that the system be holistic and ensure that queries were dealt with using a system of escalation.

Agreed: JB provided some useful contact details and EL will give these to EO’L. He also agreed to liaise with EO’L on the initiative. It is hoped that this project will be complete this year.

LEADER Update

Noted: IF provided information on the Embargo on LEADER supported food projects which was introduced in January 2011. The main issues were:

  • Department of Community, Equality & Gaeltacht Affairs places embargo on all food projects where the promoter is a farmer or member of farm family.
  • March 2011 – embargo extended to all food projects in and outside farm gate pending investigation by Commission.
  • April 2011 – Current Status as follows:

1 – Processing LEADER grant aid not available to any projects that involve PROCESSING of Annex 1* product (deemed agricultural produce). The processing of product on Annex 1 list which results in a non -Annex 1 product is eligible under LEADER – however this seems to be applicable at this stage only to milk into flavoured yogurt or flavoured ice cream. (*Annex 1 to the Treaty of Rome)
2 – Packaging & Marketing of Annex 1 Product
(Still subject to final clarification from Commission)
May only be carried out by a non - farmer as if farmer carries it out it amounts to adding to the viability of the farm which is covered by State Aid rules governing Activity and as such is only eligible under Axis 1 of the RDP
If basic product is packaged and marketed by a third party who is a recognised and properly constituted commercial enterprise, this may be eligible for funding under LEADER.
3 – Selling & Storing of Annex 1 Product
There appear to be no issues with the selling or storing of Annex 1 product by a farmer or non -farmer. The construction of a farm shop would be eligible under LEADER BUT any machinery used in processing of product e.g. meat slicer is ineligible.
4 – Training
Training in the preparation, processing etc. of any Annex 1 product is ineligible under LEADER
5 – Animation (Development Work)

Currently ineligible with respect to Annex 1 product

  • Possible Solutions being worked on by Department of Environment, Community & Local Government & Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine

1. Move some funding from Axis 2 to Axis 1 in order to allow LEADER companies to continue to work on projects involving agricultural product (Annex 1)
2. Find savings in Axis 1 to allow LEADER groups to continue to work on projects involving agricultural products (Annex 1)
3. Do nothing and hold embargo for duration of programme.

These options will be presented to the Ministers involved and it will be up to them to decide which action to take. Should Option 1 (most favoured) be selected, this will require two operational changes to the RDP at European level by the Commission and will take some time. Realistically, probably towards year end before activity could resume.

Noted: If any member has any further queries, they were invited to contact IF directly.

Teagasc Update

Noted: CMcD from Teagasc advised the members that Teagasc continues to support the artisans and advised the members about the butchery training course. She explained that support funding has dried up, but that Innovation Vouchers will become available in September.

Action: CMcD advised the members on how Teagasc can assist them and she will provide members with a list of all the Teagasc facilities that are available to the members. Also, EL to provide the Forum members with CMcD contact details.

9. Facilitating Small Poultry Producers wrt Regulations – John Matthews

Action: A fact sheet entitled “on-farm slaughter of small quantities of on-farm reared poultry” was recently published by the FSAI and EL will circulate the document to the members

10. GM Ireland and GM Labelling

Noted: Due to time constraints, this issue was postponed until the next meeting. A new verison of the GMO leaflet being updated by the FSAI was circulated to the members. Members were advised to contact Pat O’Mahony in the FSAI with queries relating to the leaflet.

11. Mobile Abattoirs

Noted: This is not an insurmountable problem, but there are issues relating to the environment and animal welfare – all issues outside the scope of the FSAI. Also, funding issues have slowed down progress on this issue. Some possible alternatives were put forward and these will be looked into.

Action: JM will arrange a meeting of the relevant stakeholders in this matter as soon as possible. DA and JB agreed to represent the Artisan Forum at this meeting.

12. Corrrespondence & AOB

Amended Terms of Reference for Artisan Forum

Noted: The amended terms of reference were distributed to the m embers for their comments. Following clarification that these amendments will apply to all the FSAI industry fora, the members had no objections to the amendments adn the new terms of reference were adopted.

SRM Regulations

Noted: LH raised this issue and FSAI advised him on how the ACBI should deal with it.

Turkey Regulations

Noted: DA raised some issues that one of her turkey suppliers have been experiencing in recent times.

Action: DA was advised to request the supplier to contact JM who will be happy to meet and discuss the matter.

13. Date of Next Meeting

Noted: EL will circulate a doodle poll to arrange a date for the next meeting in October 2011.
 

Last reviewed: 8/5/2012

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