Consultative Council Meeting Minutes - 20th November 2012

Meeting of the Food Safety Consultative Council Date & Venue: November 20th at 11:00 in the FSAI boardroom

Members Present

Ms Veronica Campbell (Chair), [VC]
Dr Susanne Boyd, [SB]
Mr Ray Bowe, [RB]
Ms Maree Gallagher, [MG]
Ms Sinead Finnegan, [SF]
Ms Breda Raggett, [BR]
Mr Martin Roper, [MR
Mr Cormac Healy, [CH]

Apologies for Absence

Ms Margaret Leahy [ML]
Mr Dermott Jewell, [DJ]
Mr Tim O’Brien [TO’B]
Ms Paula Mee, [PM]

In Attendance

Mr Raymond Ellard, [RE]
Ms Eileen Lippert, [EL]

1. Agree Minutes of 26th September 2012

The minutes of the meeting of 10th May 2012 were approved subject to an amendment to the apologies list. 

2. Matters Arising

The FSAI decision regarding sugar tax was confirmed as being the only group on the Special Advisory Group on Obesity who was not in favour or the tax on sweetened drinks.  RE explained the reasoning behind this decision.

Action: FSAI to find out if the Health Impact report will be published.  

3. EIQA Q Mark – Martin Roper

Martin Roper gave a presentation about the Q mark for hygiene and food safety.  His presentation provided information on:

  • the background to Excellence Ireland Quality Association (EIQA);
  • A programme overview
  • A flow diagram outlining the process once an organisation joins EIQA;
  • The contents of its audit reports;
  • Information about its auditors;
  • Benefits of Q mark certification;
  • Various recognition awards.

There were questions during the presentation which MR handled.  He also advised the Council about revised guidelines which EIQA published in 2008.  RB spoke about the advantages and benefits of being a member of EIQA and likened the process to a yearly car test in that it can be very useful to keep an eye on controls. It was also stated that EIQA guidelines are above legal requirements and that members find this very beneficial.   It was also clarified that EIQA does not interface with the general public due to the fact that membership of the scheme is voluntary. 

Action: EL will email the presentation to the members.

4. Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in N. Ireland

SB provided information on this scheme which is run by local authorities in N. Ireland in partnership with the Food Standards Agency.  While not all the Local Authorities are on board there are 98% participating and 14,000 food businesses are involved.  The FSA is working with local authorities to encourage as many as possible to participate.  The scheme is restricted to food business operations providing food directly to the public, however some businesses which are considered not to be a risk to people’s health are exempt (e.g. newsagents selling sweets).  The scheme is not mandatory but it is hoped that legislation will be in place in N. Ireland by 2014.  SB explained how the hygiene rating is worked out and that premises are rated on a scale of 0-5 where 5 means hygiene standards are very good.  This then led to a discussion on the importance of consistency of inspection. 

Members of the FSCC would welcome such a scheme in Rep. of Ireland but the Dept of Health is not in favour of such a scheme.  The possibility of carrying out a voluntary scheme requires more research.  These discussions then segued into a discussion on inspection fees as these might be introduced to Ireland.  RE clarified several points for the members and pointed out some difficulties enforcing the collection of inspection fees might cause. 

5. Update from the Open Meeting Sub-group

This Sub-group met prior to the main meeting and some possible themes were discussed. 

  1.  Who is responsible for what you eat from cradle to the grave? You or the Government?
  2. Is politics driving nutrition?
  3. Is sustainability sustainable?

Some of the topics that could be covered in the first option include:

  • Pregnancy nutrition;
  • Online supplement shopping;
  • Health claims
  • Obesity;
  • Raw food;
  • Scores on doors
  • Food snobbery;
  • Nanny statism;
  • Breastfeeding;
  • Balance in legislation

Some possible speakers suggested include;

  • Kevin Sheridan
  • Joe Macken
  • Eoghan Murphy TD
  • Richard Corrigan
  • Prof. Mike Gibney;
  • A celebrity mother

With regard to the third option, some of the issues contained in the theme are:

  • Upcoming abolition of CAP and milk quotas;
  • Harvest 2020
  • Importance of food and agriculture in resurrecting the economy
  • Export more and import less;
  • GM crops
  • What is the price of recovery?

Action:  Members were all in agreement that the theme should be topical, relevant, cause debate and be somewhat controversial.   With this in mind, the Sub-group and FSAI will try to come up with speakers and revert to the rest of the FSCC within two weeks with potential speakers. 

6. Rapid Alerts

RE gave a presentation on the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).  His presentation covered:

  • The purpose of RASFF
  • The history
  • Legal basis
  • Members
  • Schematic of the information flow;
  • Criteria for notification;
  • Classes of risk;
  • Flow chart for transmission of information;
  • Categories of notifications;
  • Statistics for 2011;
  • The main problems notified;
  • Top ten issues by notifying country
  • Top ten issue by origin;
  • Notifications about Ireland;
  • Information covered by professional secrecy
  • How FSAI deals with alerts;
  • Allergen alerts;
  • Code of practice 5;
  • Sources of incident information;
  • Level of incidents;
  • Questions to ask with regards to a food incident;
  • Food incident risk assessments;
  • Statistics of Irish incidents 2006-2009.

Following the presentation the members commented that RASFF is an excellent system but can be open to misuse and that the flow of information needs to be monitored better at the hub in Brussels.  They said that it might be useful if Ireland put some pressure on the relevant authorities in the Commission to plug some of the gaps in the system.  This in turn led to the importance of protecting businesses confidentiality.   

RB provided insight into how his organisation deals with recalls and withdrawals and concerns were also expressed about the issue of food sales over the internet.  

7. FSAI Update

  • Members were informed that there has been no change with the FSAI board situation.  The term of office of one board member expires at the end of the month.  FSAI has written to the minister expressing concerns about the situation.
  • There have been no major food incidents since the last meeting.
  • RE gave a brief update on meat labelling irregularities in N. Ireland.
  • A new food fraud committee has been formed and FSAI is represented on it.
  • A quick demonstration of the new FSAI e-learning system was given and RE will arrange for the members to obtain passwords in order for them to access the system
  • Copies of the two reports on infant feeding in Ireland were distributed to the members for information.

8. Correspondence

There was no correspondence 

9. Any Other Business

There was no other business. 

10. Date of the Next Meeting

The next meeting will be the open meeting and it will take place on 23 January 2013.

Last reviewed: 11/2/2013

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