Minutes of the FSAI Artisan Forum - 5 November 2013

 FSAI Board Room at 11:00


Wayne Anderson, FSAI (WA) Chair
Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School (DA)
Sean Kent, Poultry breeder (SK)
Dave Lang, ACBI (DL)
Declan Ryan, Arbutus Breads (DR)
Michael Gleeson, Irish Beekeepers Association (MG)
Jeffa Gill, Durrus Cheese (JG)
Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery (SB)
Donal Lehane, Food NPD Teo(DL)
Pat Daly, Teagasc (PD)


Myrtle Allen, Ballymaloe House (MA)
Frank Hederman, Belvelly Smoking (FH)
Mary Burns, Ardrahan Cheese (and CAIS) (MB)
Michael Healy, Wild Irish Game (MH)
Raymond O’Rourke, Taste Council of Ireland (RO’R)
John Brennan, Leitrim Organic Centre (JB)
Dorothy Guina Dornan, FSAI (DGD)
John Matthews, FSAI (JM)

In Attendance:

Eileen Lippert, FSAI (EL)
Tim Camon, FSAI (TC)
Lisa O’Connor, FSAI, (LO’C)

1. Agree Minutes of Meeting of 14 May 2013

Agreed: The minutes were agreed subject to a few editorial amendments.

2. Agree Draft Agenda

Noted: The draft agenda was agreed subject to some items being added to AOB.  These were: 
             a) Raw milk
             b) Labelling
             c) Traceability in the catering trade
             d) Alcoholic beverage labelling

3. Matters Arising

Mobile abattoirs
Noted: JB and JM of FSAI have been liaising on this, but no update was available as neither was able to attend the meeting.

Poultry advisor
Noted: There is still no specialist poultry advisor in Teagasc.

Action: WA was asked to write to Prof. Gerry Boyle, Teagasc copying Fintan Phelan and Pat Daly to outline the concerns of the Artisans on the Forum about the lack of a specialist poultry advisor.

Restaurants preparing and serving game
Noted: DGD and WA have not yet liaised on this, but SK provided some information he gleaned from a recent meeting he attended in London and he will liaise with DA on this matter.   Reference was made to an Enterprise Centre for hunters in Dunhill in Waterford.  At this point DA expressed concern at the amount of poaching which is occurring nationally.

Noted: WA raised the matter of sale of unmarked eggs at local retail level which was concerning the members informally with DAFM.  Members think this should be legalised. The Department’s response was that the issue would require a change in legislation and this is not likely.

Action: SK will liaise with RO’R regarding the legalities of the national restriction on the sale of unmarked eggs in local retail establishments.  EL will send a link of the relevant legislation to SK.   TC mentioned some derogations and TC will revert with this information.

Duck eggs
Action: The HPSC paper on the duck egg outbreak of Salmonella will be circulated to the members when it is available.

Sampling of dairy products
Action: TC to revert to the FBO with regards to the query on the sampling of dairy products and also to discuss this with JB.

Stunning of birds
Noted: SK updated the members about a meeting he recently attended in London about the various methods of stunning birds. He referred to an extension of current stunning requirements at EU level.

Horse meat
Noted: A food fraud team has been established at EU level and will look at the horse meat issue.  This in turn led to a query about the regulations surrounding the pumping of chicken with water.  WA explained that this will be covered in the new FIC Regulation where any added protein in chicken, be it bovine, porcine, used to retain water must be declared on the label.

4. Marketing terms used on food

Noted: WA informed the members that this working group met twice since the last Artisan Forum meeting.  Draft four of the report is in progress and comments have been received.  WA hopes to incorporate all these comments in December and the draft will then be circulated to Artisan Forum members for comments prior to going to public consultation.

5. Presentation from CAIS – Jeffa Gill

Noted: JF gave this presentation and the main points of the presentation were:

  • An overview of the Irish farmhouse cheese industry in Ireland
  • CAIS members strongly believe in working with regulatory and advisory bodies
  • Food safety, quality and consistency of supply is paramount to their livelihoods
  • Results from an Irish Farmhouse Cheese and Milk Testing survey which was carried out in August 2013.  This information included:
    1. Annual approximate tonnage
    2. Frequency of testing milk
    3. Frequency of testing batches
    4. Testing carried out by DAFM and vet inspectors
    5. Numbers of producers producer raw/pasteurised milk cheese
    6. Type of milk used
    7. Where milk is purchased
    8. Is cheese tested independently of the regular DAFM testing
    9. The frequency of DAFM testing
    10. Current issues for CAIS around testing
    11. VTEC testing and PCR methodology

Action: EL will email a copy of the presentation to the members for information.  

6. Microbial testing of cheese

Noted: LO’C addressed the benefits of the new testing methods for VTEC and explained the reasoning behind the testing.  Members queried whether it was better to test the milk or the cheese and it was confirmed it was better to test the milk.    

Noted: JG outlined various issues which cheese makers have encountered, especially from an economics viewpoint.  All the new regulations are very off putting for small, new producers and this prevents them from registering with CAIS.   She questioned the basis of the PCR method for VTEC and its applicability to farmhouse cheese testing.

Noted: The issue of E.coli being more prevalent in grain-fed cattle was raised and whether there is any appetite for ceasing this practice.  Members were advised that this aspect is only a sub-category and much debate ensued.

Agreed: There is no direction from FSAI to use PCR testing and only Cherry Orchard is accredited to carry this out.   It was clarified that there is not a proposal for routine testing using the PCR method and members were advised to carry on doing what they can using their current methods.

Action: CAIS to write to Alan Reilly and CC WA to formally request a working group to clarify testing and a position of the use of the PCR method for detection of VTEC .JG will arrange for this correspondence.

7. Small slaughter of poultry

Noted: DA questioned the current status and remedies for campylobacter in chickens and LO’C confirmed that the status has not changed since a survey in 2008.  She added that a slaughter out policy is not viable in Ireland as that would result in no poultry industry in Ireland.  It was questioned if there was any data stating that organic/free-range poultry have lower incidence rates and it was confirmed that there was not – it tends to be higher in this category, however stress is also a factor so the whole issue is not straightforward.   Cold climates have better campylobacter results and freezing is effective, but the Irish consumer does not like buying frozen poultry.  It was explained that New Zealand achieved great results using carcass washing methods that are not yet permitted in the EU.

Action: There were other questions on the subject and LOC confirmed that these issues were covered in a recent survey, the results of which will be circulated to the members when it is available.

Action: There was a query about the current position on the guidelines for on-farm slaughter of poultry and FSAI confirmed that a guidance note is available on FSAI.ie and EL will circulate it for information to the members. It was stated that 30 premises had registered with local authorities under the guidelines.

Noted: SK referred to derogation on 1162/2009 and he claimed FSAI and LA vets were not aware of this.   WA did not think this was the case but agreed to bring this to the attention of JM in any event.

Noted: Members were given a short update on a recent audit on poultry production in Ireland which was carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office.  

Action: When the report is published by the FVO, it will be circulated to the members for information.

8. Schmallenberg virus and food safety of milk

Noted: Concerns were expressed about the effect of the Schmallenberg virus on the food safety of milk.

Agreed: FSAI stated that there is no awareness in FSAI or DAFM of food safety issues with the Schamllenberg virus or its vaccines.  This is an issue of animal health/welfare.

Action: SK will revert to the FSAI if has any knowledge of food safety issues relating to Schmallenberg virus and in the meantime, he was advised to contact Martin Blake in DAFM for additional information.

9. Teagasc Update

Noted: PD informed the members of the following:

  • Options workshops – 12 nationwide commencing September 2013
  • Foodworks – aimed at creating and nurturing global food entrepreneurs
  • Food Innovations gateways – ideas for SMEs
  • Teagasc food industry training schedule for 2013

Action: If any of the members would like additional information about any of these initiatives, they should contact courseadministrator@teagasc.ie or ring 01 8059500.

Action: Members suggested that additional cheese workshops be arranged as they tend to be oversubscribed.  It was also proposed that some of Teagasc’s workshops could be opened up to under 18s and those in transition year in order for younger people to learn these skills.

Action: Members raised issues they experienced trying to contact Teagasc and PD will look into this.

10. Allergen Conference

Noted: Details of this conference, taking place in Teagasc on 20 November was circulated amongst the members for information.

11. Legislation update

Noted: An update on legislative developments for the Artisans was distributed to the members for information.

12. Correspondence

Noted: Members were notified of a letter recently received from Caroline Robinson stating her regrets at having to resign from the Forum.

Action: WA will write to CR to thank her for her contributions to the Forum.

Agreed: Rupert Hugh Jones was proposed and seconded as Caroline’s replacement and FSAI will write to invite him onto the Forum.

13. AOB

Raw milk

Noted: Members sought an update on the raw milk situation and WA explained that DoH and DAFM are in discussion as to which Department should write the sale of raw milk legislation.  The position of the FSAI was reiterated and while it is legal to sell raw milk in Ireland, the area is not properly regulated.  The members are concerned about this and would like the FSAI to help the Artisan Forum to draw up a raw milk hygiene protocol.

Action: Due to the FSAI position on the sale of raw milk, WA would not commit to anything until consulting with the CEO of the FSAI.


Noted: JG raised the point that there are derogations for less labelling on artisan products in some countries according to a source. 

Action: FSAI is not aware of such derogation and JG will consult her contact and revert to the members.  WA also clarified that the new nutritional labelling required in the FIC regulation is not compulsory until December 2016. The new format does apply from December 2014 however if a food business is labelling voluntarily.

Traceability through the catering trade

Noted: The matter of the traceability/country of origin of chicken eaten at catering premises was raised.  Members were informed that is under discussion at EU level and FSAI has not yet seen an initial draft of country of origin legislation

Labelling of alcoholic beverages

Action: There was a query about ingredients labelling of alcoholic beverages and FSAI will arrange for details regarding this legislation to be emailed to members

Pesticides in tea

Noted: One of the members queried who monitors pesticides in tea and TC elaborated on this.  He explained how the residue testing plan is drawn up by DAFM every year in consultation with FSAI and he explained and much discussion followed on maximum residue levels.

Mobile butcher shops

Action: DL expressed concerns on behalf of his members of some mobile butcher shops and door-to-door selling of meat.  He acknowledged that he only had anecdotal evidence and that he would obtain more proof.  In the meanwhile, WA will make JM and DGD aware of these practices.


Action: WA will remind DGD to revert to DA regarding a query she sent in about making stock.

Chinese herbs and spices

Noted: It was queried if FSAI had encountered any negative issues regarding Chinese herbs and spices and FSAI stated that as yet it had not.

14. Date of Next Meeting

Agreed: The date of the next meeting will be determined by doodle poll.

Last reviewed: 3/10/2014

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