The Green Party is calling on the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to clarify an alleged conflict of interest with its CEO Prof Alan Reilly who has worked with an organisation funded by the international food and drinks industry.

Green Party spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and Marine, Seamus Sheridan, is calling on the chairman of the FSAI, Professor Michael Gibney, to comment “on a most serious potential conflict of interest”.

“The position of Professor Alan Reilly as chief executive of the FSAI is incompatible with any consultancy work for EUFIC, a European food information group financed by food and agricultural companies such as Unilever, PepsiCo, Dow seeds, McDonalds and MARS.” It was reported in The Sunday Times at the weekend that the FSAI ceo was in receipt of payments from this organisation. 

Without further clarification from chairman Professor Michael Gibney, this private consultancy can only be seen as a conflict of interest, he added.

“As ceo Prof Reilly is charged with providing the direction and leadership of this science-based agency, which is dedicated to protecting consumers’ health and consumer interests in the area of food safety.

“On the weekend that our nation voted to protect our civic democracy, we should also take note of the importance of our own food democracy.  The Government needs to answer the question as to whether it is right for the head of the FSAI to have such links with this industry organisation.”

According to a spokeswoman for the FSAI, it is not in a position to comment as its ceo is out of the country, but stressed Prof Reilly does not receive consultancy fees from the EUFIC, but travel and expenses only.