Meeting of Consultative Council - 1 October 2015





 Meeting of the Food Safety Consultative Council on 1 October 2015 at 10:30 in the FSAI Boardroom


Veronica Campbell, Chair (VC)
Brendan Kehoe (BK)
Susanne Boyd (SB)
Breda Raggett (BR)
Cormac Healy (CH)
Dermott Jewell (DJ)
Sinead Finnegan (SF)
Pat Daly (PD)
Maree Gallagher (MG)
Margaret Leahy (ML)
Martin Roper (MR)
Una Fitzgibbon (UF)
Tim O’Brien (TO’B)
Donal Maguire (DM)

In attendance:

Raymond Ellard (RE)
Eileen Lippert (EL)
Dorothy Guina Dornan (DGD)
Eileen O’Dea (EO’D)
Vincent Downey (VD)
Peter Whelan (PW)
Gail Carroll (GC)


Paula Mee (PM)
Ray Bowe (RB)

1. Food Fraud Investigations

PW from FSAI gave a presentation on the work of FSAI and its official agencies in tackling food fraud. Entitled ‘Finding the Fraudsters’, the main points of his presentation included:

  • Food fraud is not a new issue and is a global issue
  • Membership of the Food Fraud Task Force
  • The difficulties involved in identifying food fraud
  • Updated members on a number of food fraud investigations
  • Elaborated and highlighted the complexity of these investigations
  • Food control agencies are obliged to protect both consumers’ health and interests, hence food fraud must be tacked even when there is no food safety threat
  • Further cooperation between agencies and industry across different countries is needed in order to ensure a successful investigation
  • The need for official laboratories to develop more sophisticated techniques for testing/proving origin, authenticity and composition of food

Action: EL will circulate to the members a version of the presentation which does not contain sensitive information.

There were several questions after the presentations which PW addressed. The members were of the view that penalties need should more severe in order to deter criminals from engaging in food fraud. It needs to be clear that food crime/fraud does not pay. PW explained the steps the EU has taken to prevent/reduce fraud in the fish sector and discussions arose about misleading labelling and the traceability of fish.

2. Agree minutes of 23 June 2015

Agreed: The minutes were agreed without amendment.

3. Matters Arising

Meat controls in Ireland

John Matthews was not available to attend the meeting, so this issue will be rescheduled on the agenda for a future meeting.

Inspection information from Belfast City Council

SB explained that district councils are undergoing re-structuring so obtaining the information in question is difficult. She will persevere and try to have it for a future meeting.

4. Chemical and Microbiological Testing Programme for 2015/16


In advance of the meeting FSAI proposals to official agencies for the 2015 and the 2016 Chemical Surveillance Programme were circulated to the members. DGD addressed this agenda item and explained how foods are selected for surveillance, sampling and testing. EO’D dealt with collection and analysis of laboratory results and how the sampling plans were re-structured to make it easier to compare data, which assist in the choice of future test programme topics. VD demonstrated the new data analysis tools. He added that programme test results are submitted to EFSA from all Member States. In turn this assists EU to develop an EU picture of food contamination.

The FSCC members asked questions about priorities for testing, which foods are examined and the publication of results, all of which were dealt with by EO’D and VD. To balance the discussion on chemical testing, GC addressed the microbiological sampling and food surveillance. She added that similar to the chemical testing programme, it is approached on a risk based/risk analysis basis. She explained that EHOs tend to carry out the end stage testing and that under Reg. 2073/2005 food businesses are obliged to carry out regular testing themselves. In addition to the testing above, a targeted survey which is agreed by the FSAI and the Environmental Health Service is carried out. Last year it was cream cakes, this year it will be dried nuts and seeds. The results of these surveys will be published on When asked if FSAI carries out surveillance on allergens and labelling, it was confirmed that some surveillance in these areas take place.

5. FSAI Update

RE updated the members on:  

  • A recent incident in Hong Kong involving Irish razor clams, explaining that the nub of the issue was that the clams were not harvested from an approved location. 
  • Reports from Sweden advising consumers not to eat more than six portions of rice per week due to arsenic. He added that Sweden also advised not to give rice cakes to children under six. 
  • A trainer has been recruited to give training to EHOs on how to deal with ethnic restaurants.
  • FSA NI and FSA UK has purchased MenuCal which was developed by FSAI. 
  • Dr Bernhard Ural, Executive Director of EFSA will visit the FSAI in November. 

Action: Members were invited to submit to EL any issues they would like to raise with Dr Url.

6. Update on the Scientific Committee

EL provided this short update. The main points were:

  • The Scientific Committee met on 3rd September where it finalised, subject to some amendments, the report on the ‘Potential for Transmission of Antimicrobial Resistance in the Food Chain’. This report was presented to the Board at its September meeting and should be published by the end of the year.
  • The Report on the Review of the Official Food Controls was also discussed and this will be discussed further at the next meeting of the Scientific Committee which will take place on 28 October. 
  • The Scientific Committee, responding to a request from the Department of Health, has agreed to compile a report updating the Minister for Health on Folic Acid and the Prevention of Birth Defects in Ireland. This report is now a high priority as the Scientific Committee’s term of office ends on the 31st of December 2015. 
  • Also adopted at the last meeting were two fact sheets: one on Aspartame and the other on Chemical Residues. These fact sheets will be posted onto the FSAI website. 
  • As the Scientific Committee’s term of office is due to end in December, the process for setting up a new Committee has begun. Scientists with an area of expertise relevant to the FSAI and its remit were invited to submit an Expression of Interest form. From these a shortlist will be submitted to the Minister for Health who will make the final decision on the 15 to be appointed to the Scientific Committee.

7. Theme for FSCC Open Meeting

As the theme for this year’s Open Meeting has not yet been agreed, RE suggested ‘the National Risk Assessment – Overview of Strategic Risks’ as a possibility. He explained that the report which was prepared by the Office of an Taoiseach identified food safety as a potential risk. He outlined a few possible ideas and
potential speakers. Members did not favour the theme but agreed to consider it and revert.

Action: RE will circulate the report to the members.

Agreed: As the theme for the open meeting was not finalised, it was agreed to defer the Open Meeting until January 2016.

8. Date of Next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting will take place on 3rd November at a time and venue to be advised.





Last reviewed: 8/12/2015

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