Open Consultative Council Meeting Minutes - 27 April 2016


Veronica Campbell
Ray Bowe
Sinead Finnegan
Martin Roper
Maree Gallagher
Margaret Leahy
Dermott Jewell
Tim O’Brien
Breda Raggett 


Susanne Boyd
Pat Daly
Cormac Healy
Brendan Kehoe
Donal Maguire
Paula Mee
Una Fitzgibbon

In attendance:

Raymond Ellard
Dorothy Guina Dornan
Eileen Lippert
Pamela Byrne
Suzanne Campbell

The Food Safety Consultative Council held its Open Meeting at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin on 27th April 2016. The theme for the meeting was “Food and Fitness – the Recipe for Performance?” The aim was to discuss performance nutrition for young people. The format of the meeting consisted of short presentations from experts, followed by a panel discussion with audience participation. The presenters were joined by a further two experts to form the panel, and the discussion was moderated by food writer and broadcaster Ms Suzanne Campbell.

1. Opening Address

 Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive of the FSAI opened the meeting with a welcoming address and thanked everyone for attending.

2. Welcome and Introduction

Ms Veronica Campbell, Chair of the FSCC welcomed the speakers, panellists and audience and thanked everyone for their help in putting the meeting together. She elaborated on why the FSCC chose this topic for the meeting and stressed the importance of eating properly if involved in sports.

3. Presentations

(a) Nutritional Issues for Young People
Prof. Flynn, Chief Specialist in Public Health Nutrition in the FSAI spoke of the nutritional issues facing young people. Her presentation covered or made the following matters and points:

  • So called “ fat burners” are targeted at females and protein bars at men
  • Females link physical fitness with weight control
  • Many young male athletes eat what their coach tells them to eat
  • The differences between almond milk vs cows’ milk and the importance of dairy in the diet of young people
  • The varying life stages covered in the term “young people” which can be from 13-35 years
  • Statistics on obesity in various age groups, both male and female
  • The differences between nutritional issues vs nutritional goals
  • The need for a balanced diet and explained how the food pyramid works, adding that everyone is getting more than enough of protein
  • The need for females to take folic acid
  • Body image distortion
  • Food supplements and the media and their availability on the internet for both sexes
  • Food safety concerns surrounding some foods for fitness

(b) Sports Supplements ‘Damages and Claims’, What Every Parent Needs to Know

Dr O’Brien, a consultant neurophysiologist and physician in sports medicine spoke about sports supplements in sport and society. In his talk he dealt with the following:

  • Sports medicine has been around since 280 BC
  • Drugs are the scourge of sport
  • Performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) can significantly affect morbidity and mortality
  • PEDs include supplements, anabolic steroids, peptide hormones stimulants and masking agents
  • Media focuses on PED use by elite athletes to gain competitive advantages and not on the health risks associated with them
  • Outlined the history of drug abuse in sport
  • Summarised sports teams and stars implicated with PEDs in 2014, 2015 and 2016
  • Why and who abuses PEDs
  • The side effects of PEDs, which includes mortality
  • The relationship between PEDs and kidney disease
  • Symptoms and victims of steroid (‘roid) rage
  • According to the British crime surveys of 1996, 2000 and 2013 it’s a “society problem not just sport”
  • Up to 23% of all food/sport supplements are allegedly contaminated with performance enhancing agents
  • Dietary supplements (DS) another area for concern
  • Media reporting influences people’s choices about what to eat and drink, but coverage is often incomplete, inaccurate or sensationalised
  • Elaborated on concerns around creatine and its effects

(c) Food for Sport
Ms Noreen Roche a sports dietician and during her presentation she addressed:

  • The importance of sports nutrition in training
  • The nutritional factors associated with fatigue during competition
  • How importance of properly timing nutrition and hydration
  • Stressed the importance of getting the basics right
  • How the food pyramid should be used for maximum advantage
  • The correct intake of carbohydrates
  • The protein intake required for a variety of population groups
  • Dietary sources of protein
  • The importance of iron, calcium and Vitamin D and rich sources of these
  • Advice on some snacks for sport
  • Best timing of food – three hours before training/competition; two hours before training/competition and after training/competition
  • Tips on avoiding dehydration
  • Frequently asked questions
  • A list of useful resources

(d) A Player’s Perspective
Mr Richie Hogan, a hurling player of distinction and the holder of seven All Ireland medals for the hurling, spoke about performance and how in his experience it was achieved. Athletes should concentrate on what they can control and diet is one of these. He recounted stories of his youth and how his dietary habits had changed over time and that he now consults his dietician. He pointed out that people and players have a different body shape and everyone should be cognisant of this. He does take some supplements, but he takes them as part of a routine, following advice and noted he takes fewer supplements than many of his (non-sporting) friends. He stressed the importance of hydration. As a primary school teacher he has noticed that media and TV have a huge influence on what children eat. He was of the view that education about food is better now, but diet was not good in some disadvantaged areas.

(e) Raising Standards in the Industry and Responding to Emerging Challenges
Mr Conn McCluskey from Ireland Active spoke about Ireland Active as the representative body for the leisure and fitness industry. He explained its mission “More People, More Active, More Often” and it has both advocacy and policy role. He said that personal exercise is the largest participant sport in Ireland. As way of raising standards it has introduced the “White flag national quality standard which has three categories – leisure centres, hotels and fitness centres. The scheme is based on four criteria – safety, hygiene, and HR and customer engagement. The White Flag anti-doping pilot 2016 – based on Europe Active Code of Conduct on anti-doping aims to:

  1. Educate professionals to combat doping
  2. Educate consumers to reject doping
  3. Research the sector to build a responsible approach to doping
  4. Cooperate at a European level

He spoke about research which showed that in 2002 of 634 products in 13 countries, some 15% were contaminated with anabolic-androgenic steroids. In 2015, the Netherlands Anti-doping Authority found 38% of supplements from Dutch web shops (66 products/21 brands) were positive for prohibited substances. In Ireland the Merchants Quay survey on performance and image enhancing drugs (89 people) showed that:

  • 38% started with oral steroids and progressed to injecting
  • 49% unemployed; lower socio-economic backgrounds and low educational attainments
  • 12% took them to improve sports performance – main motivations were to look good, increase muscle mass and increase strength

4. Panel Debate

The presenters were joined by Ms Ruth Wood-Martin (RWM), Head of Nutrition for the Irish Rugby Football Union and Mr Shane Jennings (SJ), former Leinster and Ireland professional rugby player.
RWM commented that there are mixed messages and there is a need to make messages clear and need to educate young people. Standards in gyms must also be raised as this is the target market.
SJ raised the issue that the messages from dieticians need to be delivered in a language that the target audience can understand. He added that simple is difficult and nutrition is very complex. Using pictures is a good way of communicating to children and younger people. He referred to the National Physical Activity Plan which is now up and running and while this is a good start, children need more than one hour of physical activity/education per week. He also commented that there are as many body shapes as there are people and this must also be taken into account. He spoke of the importance of diet, hydration, sleep and pointed out that one bottle of beer reduces function by 11.4%. It was commented upon that it is very difficult to sell this kind of practical advice as there is no money in it and it cannot be denied that commercial bodies are much better at getting messages across.
RH commented that teachers may need more education. The GAA is doing a lot of work at development level and this is starting to have an impact. Athletes have huge body image issues and there body fat and how it is measured as everyone is different. Body image has always been a huge issue with females, but now it is happening with boys. Those who are not good at sport also need to be targeted with appropriate messages and plans.

A member of the audience asked the panel if the various sports associations were doing enough at local level to educate the people who advise young children and details about IRFU 10 module e-learning were revealed and also part of the training for GAA welfare officers takes in nutrition. It was agreed by all the area of accurate nutrition advice needs to be expanded to include all levels and not just elite athletes.

The panel and the audience were made aware of Healthy Clubs with St Angela’s College in association with GAA. Further information can be received from the GAA website.
Opportunities for children who don’t make sports teams need to be made available as currently there are no facilities for children in formative years. It is not all about sports teams and bad habits can develop during this time as the earliest that children can join a gym is at 16 years of age.
It was commented that 10-20 years ago the majority of people walked to school and 10% came by car – the reverse is now true. This week is Active Week in school and it might give children the opportunity to try new sports and find a sport that they enjoy.

It was also commented upon that you become healthy and sports stars are not born as sports stars – they have to work at it. It was also questioned if there is a role for industry to help in teaching people to eat healthily and a representative from Supervalu gave a summary of some community-based initiatives it is involved with.

The ‘free-from’ trend was raised and it was clarified that this is not necessarily about healthy eating, but it was noted that ‘free-from’ recipe books are the big sellers world-wide. More education is required about these ‘free-from’ foods.

There was a remark from the audience about the mixed messages regarding milk and this issue was clarified by MF on the panel. Some discussion took place on this.

At this point time was up and SC thanked the panel and the audience for their active participation and thanked the FSAI for raising a very relevant issue.


Last reviewed: 13/7/2016

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