Consultative Council Meeting Minutes - 17 September 2014

Minutes of the Meeting of the Food Safety Consultative Council on 17 September 2014 at 10:30 in the FSAI board room

Members Present

Ms Veronica Campbell (Chair)[VC]
Ms Paula Mee [PM]
Mr Martin Roper [MR]
Ms Sinead Finnegan [SF]
Ms Breda Raggett [BR]
Ms Maree Gallagher [MGa]
Ms Margaret Leahy [ML]
Mr Brendan Kehoe [BK]
Mr Cormac Healy [CH]
Mr Ray Bowe [RB]
Mr Dermott Jewell [DJ]

Apologies for Absence

Ms Una Fitzgibbon [UF]
Mr Pat Daly [PD]
Dr Susanne Boyd [SB]
Mr Tim O’Brien [TO’B]
Mr Donal Maguire (DM) 

In Attendance

Mr Raymond Ellard [RE]
Ms Eileen Lippert [EL]
Dr Patrick O’Mahony [PO’M]
Dr James McIntosh [JMcI]


1. Welcome and introduction of new members

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

2. Agree minutes of meeting of 20 May 2014

The minutes of the last meeting were agreed without amendment.

3. Matters arising

Progress and improvements have been made on enforcements and RE elaborated upon this.

4. Food allergens – Dr Pat O’Mahony, FSAI

VC introduced Dr O’Mahony who proceeded to give his presentation entitled ‘Food Allergy and Intolerance’. His main points were:

  • A summary of his main role in FSAI
  • Recent media coverage into anaphylactic shock
  • Summary of General Food Law Reg. 178/2002
  • List of food allergens that must be declared in the EU
  • FSAI resources to help those with allergies
  • Differences between food allergy and food intolerance
  • Outlined results from a recent FSAI food allergen and labelling survey
  • Outlined general findings from audits of catering establishments with regard to allergens
  • Outlined findings from audit of food manufacturers
  • Explained the current allergen labelling requirements
  • Described deficiencies in current allergen labelling
  • Elaborated on new labelling requirements

Noted that advice has been sought from EFSA on possible threshold values for allergens

Action: EL will circulate the presentation to the members.

Noted: There were several questions and clarifications sought after the presentation and PO’M dealt with all of these. These included:

  • The percentage of the Irish population that had allergies to certain allergens?
  • Reference was made to research on allergens being carried out by Prof. John Hourihane in UCC.
  • Final EFSA guidance will be published next month. 
  • Query about ‘may contain nuts’ boxes on products?
  • Why is gluten treated differently?
  • Guidelines being prepared and currently at consultation process in the EU
  • Issue and seriousness of cross-contamination addressed
  • Updated member on what other EU members are doing
  • Reiterated that the onus is on allergy sufferers to ensure they take appropriate steps 
  • The short lead-in/transition time was commented up and addressed
  • It was commented upon that small businesses do not always understand allergen labelling or management requirements and may not have the resources to do so.
  • FSAI will publish a document on its website in the next day or so. 
  • Clarification was sought on how to advise on what is a contaminant as opposed to an ingredient. 

5. Food Allergy and Intolerance, Dr James McIntosh, Safefood

Dr McIntosh was introduced to the members and the main points of his presentation included:

  • An explanation of non-allergenic food hypersensitivity and food allergy
  • Symptoms of a mild food allergic reaction and those of a severe allergic reaction and some photos;
  • Definition and statements about food allergies;
  • Prevalence of food allergy in Ireland;
  • Impact on quality of life of food allergy sufferers;
  • How to manage a food allergy;
  • Risk management; issues for catering;
  • The Safefood training programme in food allergen control 2007-2009;
  • An evaluation of the above training by Environmental Health Officer;
  • An evaluation of the above training by a catering lecturer;
  • Mentioned various publications issues in Ireland and the UK;
  • Referred to several scientific papers on the topic;
  • Gave results from a Safefood/FSA survey;
  • Encouraged members to join the Safefood Knowledge network on Food Allergies and Intolerances;
  • Outlined the aims of the Food Allergies and Intolerances Network;
  • Gave details of some information videos available on the Safefood website;
  • Acknowledged that while a lot of work has taken place, there is still much to do.

Action: EL will circulate the presentation to the members.

Noted: There were several queries and calls for clarification after the presentation. Some of these included:

  • All allergens are proteins except sulphur dioxide 
  • Efforts to educate consumers;
  • FSAI should liaise with Safefood to improve education;
  • Is there a standard EHO audit? Why do some EHOs check for allergens and others do not?
  • Can Menucal be used to take into account allergens?
  • Can catering premises have epi-pens on the premises for customer use like a defibrillator? No, as each epi-pen is patient specific.


6. FSAI update

RE provided an update on the two major recalls since the last meeting. He also spoke about some withdrawals of raw milk cheeses for VTEC. He commented on undeclared peanuts in some products and upon the removal of rice which contained weevils. He stated that the investigation into HAV in imported frozen berries is still on-going and that the boil notice for frozen imported berries is still in place.

He reported on two outbreaks of listeriosis in Denmark and FYR Macedonia resulting in 20 deaths. These serve as a reminder of the seriousness of the illness and the need for proper safety controls in food businesses. A recent nation-wide survey carried out to detect the presence of horsemeat in beef products proved to be very satisfactory as there were no positive findings. EHOs have revisited all premises involved in the false labelling of lamb (lamb kebabs) and all the issues have been rectified.

Alan Reilly is scheduled to retire from FSAI in November and the process is underway to recruit a new Chief Executive.

7. Open meeting 2014

The Open Meeting will take place in the Radisson Hotel, Golden Lane on 5th November. The theme will be Food addiction – Fact or Fiction. The Minister for Health has confirmed that he will attend. There will be two speakers from Scotland as well as Paula Mee and Mary Flynn. Suzanne Campbell will chair the meeting and the format will be the same as the last time except for the signing of the minutes which will take place at another time.

Action: Members were invited to let FSAI know if there were any particular groups they would like to invite.

8. Correspondence

There was no correspondence.

9. AOB

The Public Health Bill from the DoH is under discussion and moving forwards.

10. Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be the Open Meeting. The meeting after that will be in January and some potential dates will be circulated.

Last reviewed: 10/4/2015

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