Scientific Committee

The FSAI must form its opinions and develop food standards using the best, most up-to-date scientific advice. The Scientific Committee helps us with this by assessing risks. These risk assessments are then used to make decisions on managing these risks. 

The Committee is made up of scientists from a variety of backgrounds, working voluntarily. It advises on many issues including:

  • the operation of food inspection services
  • the nutritional value of food 
  • scientific and technical issues in food safety and hygiene

Sub-committees are often formed to look at specific scientific areas. The Scientific Committee oversees the sub-committees and approves their work programmes.



The members of the FSAI Scientific Committee are:

Prof Albert Flynn (Chair) - University College Cork

Albert Flynn

Professor Albert Flynn, B.Sc., Ph.D. (NUI, Galway), is Professor in Nutrition in the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College, Cork . His areas of particular interest include food safety risk assessment, gene-nutrient interaction in bone metabolism, food fortification and risk benefit assessment of nutrients. Professor Flynn is Chair of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland's Scientific Committee. He has also served as a member of the European Food Safety Authority's Scientific Committee and as Chair of its Panel for Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies from 2003-12 and as a member of the Scientific Committee on Food of the European Commission from 1997-2003.

Prof Brian McKenna - University College Dublin

Brian McKennaProfessor of Food Science, University College Dublin
Former principal, College of Life Sciences
Former Vice-President for Planning and Development of UCD
Former Dean of Postgraduate Studies
Editor - Journal of Food Engineering (1988 to date)

President elect (from Oct 2005) European Federation of Food Science & Technology

Invited keynote speaker at three to four congresses per annum. Current research interests: Physical properties of foods; Rapid chilling of beef and lamb; Meat texture; Food Safety and Shelf-life prediction of foods; Radio frequency heating of foods; Formulation of functional drinks; Drug delivery in foods.

Dr Dónal Sammin - Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Donal SamminDr Dónal Sammin (MVB. PhD) is Director of Laboratories with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. He obtained his degree in Veterinary Medicine from UCD in 1991 and spent two years in veterinary practice and four years in residency training in Glasgow and Dublin Veterinary Schools before joining the Department as a Research Officer in 1997. Dónal completed his PhD studies on Chlamydial abortion in sheep in 2004 and worked on secondment with the Food and Agricultural Organisation on the control of foot-and-mouth disease for two years (2003-2005). Since then, Dónal has worked in various laboratory-based roles with the Department where he has been involved in investigation, surveillance and applied research on diseases of food-producing animals, before his appointment as Head of Veterinary Laboratories in 2010 and Director in 2015.


 Dr Eleanor McNamara - Health Service Executive

Eleanor McNamara

Eleanor McNamara is a Consultant Medical Microbiologist and Director of the Public Health Laboratory, Health Service Executive, Dublin. In addition she is a Consultant at the acute tertiary referral St James’s Hospital, Dublin and Clinical Lecturer at The University of Dublin, Trinity College.

With Scientific and Medical qualifications, she has developed the national VTEC laboratory reference service for the Republic of Ireland. A member of various national committees associated with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland in discharging the role of health care and food safety strategies. On a European level, she is the current Irish National Focal Point for Microbiology at ECDC (European Centre for Disease prevention and Control) and is the Main Irish Supervisor for the 2 year ECDC European Fellowship in Public Health Microbiology – ‘EUPHEM’. She is a member of the ECDC Food and Waterborne Diseases Network. She has published and presented internationally on Public Health Microbiology and Health Care Associated Infections.

Dr Geraldine Duffy - Teagasc

Geraldine DuffyDr Geraldine Duffy is Head of the Food Safety Department at Teagasc Food Research Centre (Ashtown, Dublin and Moorepark, Co. Cork). She obtained a B.Sc. from University College Dublin and a Ph.D from University of Ulster, Jordanstown, N.I. and undertook post-graduate and post-doctoral fellowships in The Netherlands, UK and USA. Her specific area of interest is microbial food safety focusing on the transmission, behaviour and control of microbial pathogens along the farm to fork food chain. She has a high involvement in international research programmes, including the EU Framework Programme and is co-ordinator of an integrated multi-national project on beef safety and quality (Prosafebeef). She is a member of the microbiological sub-committee of the FSAI and serves on working groups for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), and WHO/ FAO.

Ms Ita Saul - Our Lady’s Childrens Hospital, Crumlin

Ita SaulFollowing graduation as a dietitian from Dublin Institute of Technology, Kevin Street (1976), Ita was awarded a French Government scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies at the Conservatoire National Arts et Metiers(CNAM)in Paris where she obtained a Certificat d’etudes Superieures (CES) On her return to Dublin in 1977, she commenced her clinical career at The Children’s Hospital, Temple Street Dublin, establishing a full time dietetic service for patients with rare Inherited Metabolic Disorders and was very involved in clinical research in this highly specialised area. She presented at many national and international conferences and published research papers in the specialty In addition she was visiting lecturer on this specialist area of dietetics on the BSc Human Nutrition & Dietetics course, and on various aspects of paediatric nutrition to Nursing undergraduates. In 1995 she was appointed Dietitian Manager at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, the largest paediatric hospital in Ireland with many nutrition-related specialties. In addition to managing a team of 14 dietitans covering all specialties within the hospital, she retains a small clinical workload. In addition to her clinical work, Ita participated as a member of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s (FSAI) Sub Committee which produced Recommendations for a National Infant Feeding Policy in Ireland in 1999. Currently Ita chairs the Expert Working Group revising and updating this policy. She has been a member of the FSAI Nutrition Sub Committee since 2005 and also participated in the committee which produced the Recommendations for Vitamin D Supplementation in Infants in 2007 and is a member of the group revising the Healthy Eating Dietary Guidelines for the Republic of Ireland.  

Mr John Keegan - Dublin Public Analyst's Laboratory

 sc-john-keeganJohn Keegan obtained his B.Sc. (Hons.) from UCD where he went on to complete his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry. He worked for some years in the pharmaceutical industry as an R&D chemist and more recently in various roles in research and development and technical management both in the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors. In 2001 he joined the Public Analyst’s Laboratory, Dublin where he is LC-MS section head with particular interests in mycotoxins, food contact materials and food fraud. He has co-ordinated the planning and implementation of the annual chemical food sampling programme on behalf of the laboratory several times. In the context of the European Reference Laboratories/National Reference Laboratories network he is the Irish delegate for both mycotoxins and food contact materials and also attends the meetings of the CEN TC 275 WG5 on biotoxins. He was a member of the outgoing Food Safety Authority of Ireland Chemical Safety Sub-Committee.

Prof Kevin Cashman - University College Cork

Kevin CashmanProfessor Kevin Cashman is Professor of Food and Health, School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, and Department of Medicine at University College Cork (UCC).

Professor Cashman has been a University lecturer and Principal Investigator in Nutrition for over 20 years. Trained in UCC and in the USA (USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing at Tufts, Boston) he took up a lectureship post at University College Cork in 1993 and an Endowed Research Professorship at the University in 2000; this is a joint post between the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences and the Department of Medicine. He was Head of Department/School (2008-2013).

Interests focus on the key public health areas of vitamin D, including population distributions of serum 25(OH)D and related metabolites, dietary requirements for vitamin D in different population subgroups, and the role of vitamin D (and K) in health outcomes, as well as diet and bone health. He has over 140 publications; his work has contributed to current understanding of dietary vitamin D requirements and factors which affect same, as well as finding evidence-based dietary approaches for reaching the requirement estimates. Recently (2011-current), Professor Cashman has served as a member of the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition which is setting the nutritional recommendations (DRV) for vitamin D in the UK. He is an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Professor Cashman is the Joint Coordinator of a major European Commission-funded project on Food-based solutions for ‘Optimal vitamin D Nutrition and health through the life cycle (ODIN)’, which is a 31 partner collaborative project aimed at tackling vitamin D deficiency in Europe (2013-2017).

Dr Margaret B. O'Sullivan - Health Service Executive

Margaret-o-SullivanMargaret O’ Sullivan MB BCh BAO, MPH, FFPHMI is Consultant in Public Health Medicine with the Department of Public Health, Health Service Executive (HSE-South), based in Cork. Her specialist interests, and brief, include the surveillance and control of food borne and waterborne infections, zoonotic diseases and tuberculosis.
Dr O’ Sullivan is chair of the National Zoonoses Committee. She serves on a number of national advisory groups including the HSE’s National TB Advisory Committee and the National Drinking Water Group. She is a member of the Board of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, and a former Vice-Dean of the Faculty. She is a member of the Veterinary Council of Ireland.

Dr Mark Fenelon - Food Research Centre, Teagasc

 Mark FenelonDr. Mark Fenelon is Senior Principal Research Officer within Teagasc and Head of the Food Programme at Teagasc Food Research Centre Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland and Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown, Dublin 15, Ireland. Mark was appointed to his current position in March 2015. Mark began is carreer as a research scientist at Teagasc in 2005. He graduated with a B.Sc. in Food Science and Technology from University College Cork, Ireland in 1994, a PhD in Food Science and Technology in 2000 and a Diploma in Process and Chemical Engineering in 2007. Mark worked in the Infant formula industry as a research scientist prior to taking up his role in Teagasc. His main research interests are in dairy chemistry and related dairy processes. Dr. Fenelon has expertise in rheology, protein - carbohydrate, protein - mineral interactions and associated instrumentation/analytical techniques. He has extensive pilot plant and processing experience in thermal and dehydration technology (spray drying) at both industrial and academic level.

Dr Michael O'Keeffe - Residue Specialist

Michael O'KeefeDr. Michael O'Keeffe is a specialist in the area of chemical contaminants in food. Until 2008 he was employed as Senior Principal Research Officer at Ashtown Food Research Centre, Teagasc, working in the Food Safety Department on contaminant residue studies. Dr. O'Keeffe has wide experience in research on residues of prohibited substances, veterinary drugs and other contaminants in food, including pesticides, anabolic steroids, beta-agonists, antimicrobials, anthelmintics and anticoccidials, and has particular interests in bound residues and development of analytical techniques. He has been involved in many national and European research projects on chemical food safety. He has published widely in the area of chemical contaminants in food and was responsible for developing the National Food Residue Database. In 2008, Dr. O'Keeffe was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the EuroResidue Foundation, the Netherlands. More recently, Dr. O’Keeffe has been involved as a scientific expert in an EFSA Working Group on Meat Inspection – contaminants. 

Dr PJ Cullen - Dublin Institute of Technology

PJ CullenDr PJ Cullen is a principal investigator at the School of Food Science and Environmental Health, Dublin Institute of Technology. His expertise includes the development of novel technologies for food safety and monitoring. He has considerable experience in research management having led 6 EU projects along with numerous national awards including the SFI Investigator award. He has co-authored 120 journal articles and edited 6 books.

Dr Paula Barry Walsh - Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

PaulaBarryWalshDr. Paula Barry Walsh MVB MRCVS, Cert WEL, MApplSc. was raised on a dairy farm in Co. Limerick. She attended UCD, gaining a veterinary degree in 1982. After working in general practice both in Ireland and UK, she joined the Local Authority Veterinary Service in 1990, working at Galway Corporation and Galway Co. Council, dealing with public health, animal health and animal welfare duties.

In 1994, she joined the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, with responsibility for public health duties in meat establishments. In 1999, she moved to Dublin and has worked in DAFM headquarters, with involvement in both operational delivery of programmes as well as policy matters. Paula undertook a Certificate in Welfare, Ethics and Law in 1997 and completed an MSc in Food Technology in 2000. She serves on the Scientific Committee of the Food Safety Authority since 2004, and is on the External Advisory Board of UCD. She is now a Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer in the DAFM veterinary services, with responsibilities spanning farm to fork.

Mr Ray Parle - Health Service Executive

sc-ray-parleRay Parle has been a Principal Environmental Health Officer in the Health Service Executive South region since 1993. During his career he has been much involved in work in the field of microbiological monitoring of food businesses. Ray has also been a member of the FSAI national HACCP committee. He earned his diploma in Health Inspection from Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) in 1980 and obtained his Masters in Environmental Health Risk Assessment (1st class honours) from DIT in 2001. Ray is a member of the HSE National Drinking Water Group which advises on issues relating to drinking water and has drafted protocols on the role of HSE personnel in relation to drinking water and public health and liaison with Water Services Authorities. Ray is also a member of the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health, set up by the Minister for Health & Children in 2004 to advise on the implementation of the recommendations of the Forum on Fluoridation. He was the co-ordinator for the South-Eastern Health Board of a pilot initiative involving three health boards to draw up a quality management system for the E.H. service, which achieved ISO 9000 accreditation in 1999. He served as the inaugural chairman of a national steering committee, which had the function of extending the system throughout the country.

Last reviewed: 27/11/2019

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