Minutes of the Scientific Committee 26 Sept 2019

PRESENT

  • Prof. Albert Flynn (Chair) [AF]
  • Prof. Brian McKenna [BMcK]
  • Ms Ita Saul [IS]
  • Dr Geraldine Duffy [GD]
  • Dr Michael O’Keeffe [MOK]
  • Dr Donal Sammin [DS]
  • Dr Mark Fenelon [MF]
  • Mr Ray Parle [RP]
  • Ms Paula Barry Walsh [PBW]
  • Mr John Keegan [JK]

IN ATTENDANCE

  • Dr Wayne Anderson [WA]
  • Dr Mary Flynn [MFL]
  • Dr Clare O’Donovan [COD]
  • Dr Pat O’Mahony [POM]
  • Dr Lisa O’Connor [LOC]
  • Ms Nuala Collins [NC]
  • Ms Judith Giles [JG]

APOLOGIES

  • Dr Eleanor McNamara [EMcN]
  • Prof. Kevin Cashman [KC]
  • Dr P J Cullen [PJC]
  • Dr Margaret O’Sullivan [MOS]

1. DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST

Noted: There were no disclosures of interest.

2. AGREE MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (15 May)

Noted: The draft minutes were agreed. 3. MATTERS ARISING Noted: All actions were completed. The following updates were provided:

  • The Rules of Procedure were approved by the Board in June and circulated. The text on electronic sign off of reports was updated. It is important that all members reply to requests to sign off on a report. Voting buttons will be used.
  • The Work Plan was updated and circulated.
  • WA noted that it will not be possible to carry out the project on ‘The food safety and nutritional aspects of thermal processes (total thermal loading) applied to dairy products’ during the lifetime of this Scientific Committee, which finishes at the end of 2020.
  • LOC noted that coccidiostats in poultry are not included in the Irish National Action Plan on AMR. It will not be possible to carry out the project during the lifetime of this Committee, given that the focus is currently on the risk ranking of microbiological hazards project.
  • AF noted that the HEG Report for 1-5 Year Olds was finalised during the summer to ensure that there is a clear understanding for Vitamin D supplementation. This was circulated for information and will be sent to the Board for approval to publish.
  • The issue of timelines and the lifespan of the Committee was raised in relation to getting work projects completed and whether there is a mechanism to allow work projects be carried over from one Committee to the next.

Scientific Recommendations for Health Eating Guidelines for Older Adults 

Noted: The updated request for advice (RfA) was circulated after the last meeting. Further comments were received from the Department of Health (DoH) in September requesting consideration be given to the different housing options available for older adults, the meals-on-wheels service and the factors impacting on the diet of older adults. The scope of the RfA was discussed and the short timeline in which the work will have to be done. It was agreed that the PHN Subcommittee will carry out this work itself without forming a working group that includes external experts. IS will chair this work. The Adult Food-based Dietary Guidelines and two scientific papers will form the basis of the work, with specific issues being identified for older adults. The RfA will need to be amended to reflect the input from DoH. Action: WA to amend the RfA for HEG for Older Adults and circulate. Action: IS/MFL to create a work plan for the delivery of this report and circulate.

4. APPRAISAL OF NEW AND EMERGING FOOD PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES REPORT

Noted: Some comments on this report were received in advance of the meeting and were discussed in detail. Issues included: the use of the term ‘preservation’; reference to FSMPs/HACCP; validation and verification studies. The members agreed the amendments to be made and the report will be sent for electronic sign off within the next two weeks.
Action: MF/POM to review and amend the document and circulate for sign off.

Noted: The issue of whether to include the request for advice in final reports was brought up for consideration.

5. FSAI GUIDANCE ON REVIEWING SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS

Noted: Clare O’Donovan, Technical Executive, Public Health Nutrition Safety, FSAI presented a document ‘FSAI Guidance on Reviewing Scientific Publications’ which was developed to assist FSAI staff with their work. The document includes useful terminology, the structure of a scientific publication, questions to ask when reviewing different sections and guidance on assessing different types of studies. The guidance was well received by the Scientific Committee, who provided some feedback and suggestions. There was a note of caution in relation to peer reviewed papers. Some members (DS, MF & MOK) agreed to work with COD on finalising the document and a decision on whether it could be published by the Scientific Committee will be made later.

Action: COD to work with members to finalise the guidance on reviewing scientific publications.

6. UPDATE FROM BIOLOGICAL SAFETY SUBCOMMITTEE

Noted: GD updated the Committee on the work of the Risk Ranking of Microbiological Hazards WG. The WG consists of 12 members, with one external expert. The WG have met three times this year and a literature review has been completed. A meeting was also held with an expert Prof. Arie Havelaar, who carried out similar work in The Netherlands and for WHO and gave some excellent advice and direction to the group. There are four stages to the project: (1) select the hazards (5-10) – these will be presented to the BS Subcommittee and Scientific Committee for agreement later this year; (2) calculate the burden of human illness using the DALY approach and the BCoDe tool; (3) calculate the DALY attributed to food – there are data gaps here and expert elicitation using the DELPHI approach will be used; (4) rank the risk using R’ software.

7. UPDATE FROM CHEMICAL SAFETY SUBCOMMITTEE

Noted: MOK provided an update on the work of the subcommittee, who are reviewing the BELFRIT approach to risk assessment of botanicals and its applicability in Ireland. Joris Geelan from Belgium gave a presentation to the subcommittee on BELFRIT in April. A document was then drafted on the legislative status quo and information available on botanicals used in food supplements. A number of issues have arisen, e.g. member states (MS) have different views on what a medicinal product is and different products are marketed in different MS; there is no definition of a botanical; a robust risk assessment has not been carried out on botanicals; even if Ireland had an authorised list, this would only apply to food supplements manufactured in Ireland. An advisory document is being developed and will be forwarded to the Scientific Committee in the New Year.

8. UPDATE FROM PUBLIC HEALTH NUTRITION SUBCOMMITTEE

Noted: Update as above.

9. UPDATE FROM AD HOC SUBCOMMITTEE ON SEAWEED

Noted: BMcK updated the members on the work of the Seaweed Subcommittee to-date. The group has met three times this year. Background data has been collected and a draft report commenced. Some production data is available but Ireland is a minor player worldwide. There is no consumption data available. Only 15 species are relevant to Ireland and the report will focus on these. The risks associated with seaweed, including biological and chemical risks, will be included. The next meetings will focus on the questions posed in the RfA and the recommendations to be made. A draft report will be brought to the Scientific Committee next year.

10. UPDATE FROM AD HOC SUBCOMMITTEE ON MAP AND CROHN’S DISEASE

Noted: DS provided an update from the MAP Subcommittee. One meeting was held in July and a second meeting is scheduled for 30 September. The Technical Secretariat is currently doing a literature review. Information on what other MS are doing could be sought through the EFSA Focal Point. The aim is to get a draft report to the Scientific Committee by mid-2020.

11. CORRESPONDENCE

Noted: The following correspondence was received:
(1) Request from CAIS to remove a statement in the RfA included in the appendices of STEC Report regarding reference to a proposed protocol of action.
(2) The Food Allergy Network wrote to say that there is no advice in the Infant Feeding Guidelines about introducing peanut and egg at an early age. MFL noted that a thorough review of this issue is needed, which could take time and resources. It was agreed that MFL would review the information available from EFSA and SACN and consider a way forward. This will be discussed at the next meeting.

Action: MFL to propose a way forward on the Infant Feeding Guidelines report.

12. AOB

Noted: DS noted that DAFM has agreed a protocol with HSE for sharing whole genome sequencing data during a food safety incident or outbreak.

Noted: DS noted future investment in the Backweston Campus to include the relocation of Forensic Science Ireland and building of a Whole of Government Data Centre. He invited the Scientific Committee to hold one of its meetings in 2020 in Backweston.

13. DATE OF NEXT MEETING

Noted: The next meeting will take place in mid-December. A doodle poll will be issued.

Last reviewed: 10/12/2019

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