Rules of Procedure for the Scientific Committee of the FSAI and its Related Bodies

Terms of Reference and Purpose

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act, 1998 as amended (hereafter referred to as the FSAI Act) requires the establishment of a Scientific Committee to advise the Board of the FSAI in relation to matters of a scientific nature referred to it by the Board. Without prejudice to this generality, the Scientific Committee shall advise the Board on matters relating to:

  • Scientific and technical questions relating to food safety and hygiene
  • the implementation and administration of food inspection services, and
  • the nutritional value or content of food.


Section 34 (3) of the Act states that:
“The Scientific Committee shall adopt rules and procedures for the conduct of its meetings and its activities generally and shall submit such rules and procedures to the Board for its approval”.

The purpose of this document is to fulfil this legal requirement and allow for the efficient and effective operation of the Scientific Committee.

Rules of Procedure

General Legal Requirements

  1. Members of the Scientific Committee must complete a declaration of interest form on appointment and at the end of each year of their tenure in accordance with the requirements of Section 41 of the FSAI Act . These forms are a statutory requirement and are sent to the Department of Health.
  2. Members of the Scientific Committee, its subcommittees and by extension their working groups, in accordance with Section 42 of the FSAI Act, who have a pecuniary interest or other beneficial interest in, or material to, any matter which falls to be considered by the Scientific Committee, subcommittee or working group shall—
    (a) disclose to the Scientific Committee, subcommittee or working group, as the case may be, the nature of his or her interest in advance of any consideration of the matter,
    (b) neither influence nor seek to influence a decision in relation to the matter,
    (c) take no part in any consideration of the matter,
    (d) withdraw from the meeting for so long as the matter is being discussed or considered and shall not vote or otherwise act as a member in relation to the matter.
  3. 3. Members of the Scientific Committee, its subcommittees and by extension their working groups, in accordance with Section 43 of the FSAI Act, shall not, without the consent of the Board, disclose any information obtained by him or her while performing (or as a result of having performed) duties as a member of the Scientific Committee, subcommittee or working group.

Meetings of the Scientific Committee

  1. There shall be a minimum of two meetings of the Scientific Committee each calendar year and they should, where possible, be held two weeks prior to a Board meeting.
  2. A quorum shall be established consisting of 50% of the eligible members of the Committee.
  3. Meetings of the Scientific Committee will be conducted by the Chair assisted by an administrative and technical secretariat assigned by the FSAI Executive. 
  4. With the agreement of the Chair another member of the Scientific Committee may conduct a meeting of the Scientific Committee and for the purpose of interpreting these rules is considered to be the Chair for that meeting.
  5. Members unable to attend a meeting should send their apologies as soon as possible but not later than 48 hours before the meeting date unless otherwise unavoidable. 
  6. An agenda, minutes of the last meeting and relevant additional documentation shall be circulated to members of the Committee at least one working week before a meeting, where possible. However, this should not preclude informal discussion on relevant topics that may arise in the days immediately prior to a meeting.
  7. Cancellation of meetings will be a decision of the Chair of the Scientific Committee.
  8. At the start of meetings, Scientific Committee members will be asked to declare any interests in specific items on the agenda. Members are required to disclose any interests they have in any item under consideration in accordance with their legal obligations under Section 42 of the FSAI Act. The Chair of the Scientific Committee will decide on appropriate action as required by Section 42 of the FSAI Act. Where a disclosure is made, particulars of the disclosure shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting concerned.
  9. The minutes of the meetings of the Scientific Committee will be recorded by the secretariat. The draft minutes will be circulated to members not later than two weeks after a scheduled meeting of the Committee. Comments on the draft minutes should be sent to the secretariat by members within three weeks of receipt of the draft minutes. The Chair of the Scientific Committee will then sign off on the amended minutes which should be posted on the FSAI website within one week of sign off.

Advice of the Scientific Committee

  1. Requests for advice may come directly from the Board or from the Executive of the FSAI acting on behalf of the Board. A timescale and priority may be set for the provision of advice following consultation with the Chair of the Scientific Committee. The request for advice should be clear, contextualised and be accompanied by an indication of the desired scope of the advice.
  2. The Scientific Committee may also initiate an investigation, assessment or examination of any matter related to food safety and hygiene as the Committee considers appropriate but only after first informing the Board and establishing the budgetary and resource implications to the best of its ability.
  3. The Scientific Committee may engage external experts to either prepare draft advice or peer review draft advice, subject to FSAI rules on such matters and availability of funding, where appropriate.
  4. Draft advice from a subcommittee must be adopted at a meeting of the Scientific Committee or otherwise as agreed. The Chair should strive to enact an adoption procedure where all eligible members have an opportunity to participate. Generally, this will involve a minimum of one physical meeting where the advice is discussed in detail and substantive issues are addressed followed, if agreed, by an electronic adoption procedure to address minor changes. During electronic adoption, the Chair will decide if any suggested amendments provided by members are of such a substantial nature as to require suspension of the electronic adoption procedure and return of the draft advice to another physical meeting of the Scientific Committee.
  5. The adopted advice will be circulated by correspondence to all members of the Committee by the secretariat, immediately after adoption. A period of at least one week will elapse after advice is adopted by the Committee in order to allow for reflection by members. In the event of additional views being expressed by members during this period, the Chair of the Committee will decide on the status of the advice. In exceptional circumstances requiring urgent advice, the Chair of the Committee will decide if suspension of the one week period is necessary.
  6. The Scientific Committee should strive for unanimous agreement of its advice by its members. However, where this is not possible, advice must be adopted by at least a 2/3 majority of eligible members. In this latter event, members with minority views should be invited to briefly record their views and these should be noted in, and appended to the minutes of the meeting.
  7. The advice of the Scientific Committee shall be sent to the Board by the secretariat and communicated to the Board by the Chair of the Scientific Committee. 
  8. The Board may publish advice from the Scientific Committee at its discretion.
  9. In the event of the publication of advice by the Board, the Chair of the Scientific Committee or his/her nominee may act as spokesperson for the Committee if requested by the Executive of the FSAI following consultation with the Chair of the Board. The FSAI could arrange media training for spokespersons for the Scientific Committee if required.

Establishment of the Subcommittees of the Scientific Committee

  1. At the start of its term of office and as appropriate thereafter, the Scientific Committee may establish any standing subcommittee as it sees fit to assist it in relation to the performance of its functions.
  2. The Scientific Committee may from time to time establish ad hoc subcommittees to perform a given task. Unless otherwise directed by the Scientific Committee, ad hoc subcommittees will cease to exist on completion of the given task.
  3. The Scientific Committee is responsible for appointing all members to a standing subcommittee. Such persons should have a special knowledge and experience related to the purposes of the subcommittee. In doing so it shall have regard to an equitable balance between men and women in the composition of subcommittees. The Chairs of ad hoc subcommittees are responsible, on behalf of the Scientific Committee, for appointing members and should notify the Scientific Committee of membership.
  4. The Scientific Committee shall define either the terms of reference for a standing subcommittee or the task for an ad hoc subcommittee before the first meeting of a subcommittee.
  5. The Scientific Committee may dissolve a subcommittee at any time it sees fit. However, adequate notice and explanation of reasons for such action should be communicated to members of the subcommittee by the Chair of the Scientific Committee. Unless dissolved, a standing subcommittee will continue to exist until the end of the term of office of the Scientific Committee, after which all standing subcommittees will automatically cease to exist.
  6. All activities and outputs of a subcommittee must be confirmed by the Scientific Committee unless the Scientific Committee dispenses with this requirement. Draft advice of a subcommittee may be amended by the Scientific Committee before adoption without further reference to the subcommittee unless the Scientific Committee deems otherwise.
  7. The Chair of each subcommittee shall be a serving member of the Scientific Committee. Chairs of the subcommittees will be responsible for reporting the activities of their subcommittee at each meeting of the Scientific Committee.
  8. The Scientific Committee is responsible for directing requests for advice to its subcommittee as it sees fit and for approving specific work programmes proposed by subcommittee. In doing so, the Scientific Committee should set an appropriate timescale for the work to be concluded by the subcommittee.

Meetings of the Subcommittees of the Scientific Committee

  1. There shall be as many meetings of a subcommittee per year as are necessary for it to carry out its functions.
  2. Meetings of a subcommittee will be conducted by the Chair of the subcommittee, assisted by an administrative and scientific secretariat provided by the FSAI.
  3. With the agreement of the Chair, another member of the subcommittee may conduct a meeting of the subcommittee and, for the purpose of interpreting these rules, is considered to be the Chair for that meeting.
  4. A quorum shall be established consisting of 1/3 of the eligible members of the subcommittee concerned. 
  5. Members who are unable to attend a scheduled meeting should send their apologies as soon as possible but not later than 48 hours before the meeting date unless circumstances are unavoidable. 
  6. An agenda, updated draft meeting note of the last meeting and relevant additional documentation shall be circulated to members of the subcommittee at least one working week before a meeting, where possible. However, this should not preclude informal discussion on relevant topics that may arise in the days immediately prior to a meeting.
  7. Cancellation of meetings will be a decision of the Chair of the subcommittee concerned.
  8. At the start of meetings, subcommittee members will be asked to declare any interests in specific items on the agenda. Members are required to disclose any interests they have in any item under consideration in accordance with their legal obligations under Section 42 of the FSAI Act. The Chair of the subcommittee will decide on appropriate action as required by Section 42 of the FSAI Act. Where a disclosure is made, particulars of the disclosure shall be recorded in the meeting note of the meeting concerned.
  9. A meeting note will be recorded by the secretariat and approved by the Chair prior to circulation. The meeting note will be circulated to members not later than two working weeks after a scheduled meeting of the subcommittee. Comments on the meeting note should be sent to the secretariat by members within three weeks of receipt. The updated meeting note will be submitted for adoption at the next meeting of the subcommittee. Meeting notes will not be published.

Draft Advice of Subcommittees to the Scientific Committee

  1. A subcommittee is responsible for advising the Scientific Committee on matters within the approved terms of reference of that subcommittee. The advice forwarded to the Scientific Committee is regarded as ‘draft advice’ until its adoption and/or amendment by the Scientific Committee.
  2. Except in exceptional circumstances, requests for draft advice will come directly from the Scientific Committee. A timescale and priority may be set for the provision of advice after consultation with the Chair of the subcommittee. 
  3. A subcommittee should strive for unanimous agreement of its advice. However, where this is not possible, preliminary advice must be adopted by at least a 2/3rd majority of eligible members present. In this latter event, members with minority views should be invited to briefly record their views and these should be noted in, and appended to, the meeting note and made available to the Scientific Committee. 
  4. The subcommittee may form working groups to progress drafting of advice subject to agreement of the FSAI and working group members should be provided with a copy of these rules before appointment.
  5. Draft advice must be adopted at a meeting of the subcommittee or otherwise as agreed. The Chair should strive to enact an adoption procedure where all eligible members have an opportunity to participate. Generally, this will involve a minimum of one physical meeting where the advice is discussed in detail and substantive issues are addressed followed, if agreed, by an electronic adoption procedure to address minor changes. During electronic adoption, the Chair will decide if any suggested amendments provided by members are of such a substantial nature as to require suspension of the electronic adoption procedure and return of the draft advice to another physical meeting of the subcommittee.
  6. The adopted draft advice of a subcommittee shall be communicated to the Scientific Committee by the Chair of the subcommittee. All subcommittee members should be aware that the Scientific Committee may adopt, amend or reject draft advice with or without referring amendments back to the subcommittee as it sees fit. In the event of adoption of draft advice with changes, the amended version will be circulated for information to the members of the subcommittee by the secretariat. The Chair of the subcommittee is responsible for informing the members about progress of the draft advice through the Scientific Committee.
  7. Subcommittees may not engage in correspondence regarding advice of the Scientific Committee unless requested to do so by the Scientific Committee.
  8. The members of the subcommittee will be recognised in any report adopted by the Scientific Committee unless they expressly request otherwise. 

Working Groups of the Subcommittees

  1. When a subcommittee forms a working group it must appoint a Chairperson from among its members. It is the responsibility of the subcommittee to select and appoint the members of the working group and for setting clear terms of reference. Subcommittee members and Scientific Committee members should be encouraged to be on working groups as appropriate.
  2. Working group members should be aware that their work will be subject to approval and amendment by the Scientific Committee and the subcommittee that established the working group without reference back to the working group
  3. Working group members will be recognised in any report adopted by the Scientific Committee unless they expressly request otherwise.
  4. At the start of meetings, working group members will be asked to declare any interests in specific items on the agenda. Members are required to disclose any interests they have in any item under consideration in accordance with Section 42 of the FSAI Act. The Chair of the working group will decide on appropriate action as laid down in Section 42 of the FSAI Act. Where a disclosure is made, particulars of the disclosure shall be recorded in the meeting note of the meeting concerned.
  5. A meeting note will be recorded by the secretariat and approved by the Chair prior to circulation. The meeting note will be circulated to members not later than two working weeks after a scheduled meeting of the working group. Comments on the meeting note should be sent to the secretariat by members within three weeks of receipt. The updated meeting note will be submitted for adoption at the next meeting of the working group. Meeting notes will not be published.
  6. Working groups may include external experts subject to prior agreement with FSAI, in line with FSAI rules on such matters and availability of funding, where necessary.
  7. Working groups may include external experts from the food industry or connected to the food industry where necessary but only in an ‘observer’ capacity, i.e. they may contribute factual information but may not be involved in drawing the conclusions and recommendations of the working group and must withdraw from the meeting prior to discussions leading to adoption of the draft advice. This does not apply to academic experts receiving funding from industry for research projects.
  8. FSAI staff can be members of a working group preparing draft advice for a subcommittee but an FSAI staff member cannot be the Chairperson. 

Conduct of Members of the Scientific Committee, its related Subcommittees and their Working Groups

  1. Members are appointed in their individual capacity independent of their organisations of employment.
  2. Members should strive to attend all scheduled meetings in person, whenever possible. Members who are unable to attend meetings should send apologies to the secretariat as specified in these rules of procedure.
  3. Members expressing views in public on matters within the terms of reference of the Scientific Committee, subcommittee or working group as appropriate should ensure that it is made clear that they are doing so in their private capacity. Members shall not represent the views of the Scientific Committee, subcommittees or working group without the prior consent of the Chair of the Scientific Committee or the CEO of the FSAI.
  4. Members are entitled to claim for direct expenses incurred in their duties on the Scientific Committee, subcommittees or working group in line with the rules and procedures of the FSAI. 
  5. Members are required to respect the confidentiality of the information provided at meetings and the discussions held at meetings in accordance with their legal obligations under Section 43 of the FSAI Act.
  6. FSAI will only collect, process and retain personal data for the term of the Scientific Committee. Members should respect the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when using personal data. Information on how FSAI uses personal data is available on the FSAI website.

Last reviewed: 28/6/2019

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