Food Safety Consultative Council Minutes - 21 May 2013

 Meeting of the Food Safety Consultative Council on 21 May 2013 at 11:00 in the FSAI boardroom

Members Present

Ms Veronica Campbell (Chair), [VC]
Mr Tim O’Brien [TO’B]
Mr Cormac Healy, [CH]
Mr Dermott Jewell, [DJ]
Mr Ray Bowe, [RB]
Mr Martin Roper, [MR]
Ms Margaret Leahy [ML]
Ms Breda Raggett, [BR]
Ms Paula Mee [PM]

Apologies for Absence

Ms Maree Gallagher [MG]
Dr Susanne Boyd, [SB]
Ms Sinead Finnegan, [SF]

In Attendance

Mr Raymond Ellard, [RE]
Ms Eileen Lippert, [EL]
Mr Bernard Hegarty, [BH]


1. Agree Minutes of Meeting of 23 January 2013

The minutes of the meeting of 23 January 2013 were approved without amendment.

2. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising that were not agenda items.

3. Overview of revision of Reg. 882/2004

Prior to introducing Bernard Hegarty, Director of the Service Contracts Division in the FSAI RE explained the procedure for passing a regulation in Brussels. BH then proceeded to present on the ”Revision of Official Controls Regulation (EC) NO. 882/2004”. The main points of the presentation included:

  • It’s part of a package of legislation proposals from the EC; 
  • The general objectives of the new proposed rules; 
  • Risk basis” controls, combat of fraud;
  • Better financing of official controls; 
  • Main items of interest; 
  • Possibility of mandatory fees for inspections; 
  • Exemptions; 
  • Next steps; 
  • Link to further information.

Noted: A hard copy of the presentation was distributed to members at the meeting and discussions arose, especially regarding the mandatory fees where concerns were expressed. Samples of the queries raised include:

  • Would the additional fees relate to farmers? It was confirmed they would, but many farmers will be exempt;
  • How will the ‘efficient and thrifty’ aspect of the regulation be benchmarked? Will it be against similar agencies in Member States?
  • How will the cost of food safety in Ireland be calculated?
  • If/when passed, the legislation will be effective from 2017. While this seems a long way ahead, now is the time to start preparing for it.
  • Fees are only one aspect of the revision/review of 882, but it is certainly the most controversial.
  • A review of the meat inspection service is underway and it was suggested this could be useful for the fees discussion.
  • Much debate about efficiency of competent authorities;
  • It was remarked that the need for some of the tests carried out is obsolete.
  • Is the fee initiative leading the way to privatising the food safety industry as in UK and New Zealand?
  • There was a query about the destination of the last penalty funds? What would be done with them? ML explained how the fines operate with farmers.
  • The practicalities of inspectors visiting premises. As it is, they are not exactly welcome visitors and will be even less so if carrying a hefty bill.
  • The lack of a database of registered premises was highlighted as being a problem which needs to be resolved.
  • Comments and discussions took place around countries that have fee systems and the fact that there is no agreed frequency of inspection system in Europe.
  • Remarks were made about recent occurrences in the UK during meat inspections.

Action: RE will put the views of the members on paper and circulate them to the members or approval and will then table it to the relevant people.

4. Update on Horsemeat in Burgers

RE updated the members of what has occurred regarding the horsemeat scandal since the last meeting. At least 23 countries in Europe have found horsemeat in processed beef products and the horsemeat contained in the adulterated beef products was sourced from 14 different countries, including Ireland. The trails from Ireland lead back to Poland via UK traders. In February, the EU began testing of beef products and no Irish products tested positive for horsemeat. The issue of horse passports has also been addressed.

PM enquired if the FSAI was acting on a tip-off and RE clarified that it was not. It was carrying out routine testing. This led to a discussion about the FSAI’s appearance in front of the UK’s select committee and the difficult and unreasonable questioning that the FSAI representatives experienced.

There were remarks that there have not been any prosecutions to date. It was also questioned if there would be testing carried out on processed chicken products following the revelation that horsemeat was found in processed chicken in Greece.

CH expressed concerns about how the media sensationalised the whole horsemeat issue and this matter was debated for a time. Other members identified some positives to the whole issue and that you cannot control the social media, but that it can be a two-way street.

The issue of food fraud was raised, especially in relation to coffee, honey, olive oil and fruit juices where food fraud is rife. Does the FSAI have any plans to tackle any of these?

5. Update on the Open Meeting

It is hoped to stage the Open Meeting in September or October subject to the availability of the speakers. The meeting will have same theme, agenda and speakers as was planned for the March meeting.

Action: Members will be advised of the new meeting date.

6. FSAI Update

i. FSAI now has a Board, though there are still some positions to be filled preferably by females...
ii. A short update on a case of someone becoming ill from E.coli from raw milk cheese was provided but very limited due to an upcoming court case.
iii. The Minister has decided that the proposed tax on sugared drinks will not go ahead.

7. Correspondence

There was no correspondence


8. Any Other Business

BR raised the issue of labelling foods and of the serious issue regarding the safety of food and quality of food safety at takeaway restaurants and this was briefly discussed.

8. Dates of Next Meeting

Agreed: The next meeting will take place in the FSAI at 11:00 on 1 October 2013 where the theme of the meeting will be food waste/reusing food, etc. Safefood will be invited to attend to present at this meeting as they currently are running a campaign on the topic.

Last reviewed: 30/9/2013

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