Codex meeting progressing; adds a session to complete part of its work


The Codex Alimentarius Commission agreed on a set of standards but had to delay adoption of the final report after running out of time at its last meeting.

The Commission met online in November for several days and brought together over 800 participants.

Members of the international food standards body have approved a number of standards, guidelines and codes of practice. They also elected Steve Wearne, Director of Global Affairs at the Food Standards Agency, as the new chair of the Commission. Allan Azegele of Kenya, Raj Rajasekar of New Zealand and Diego Varela of Chile have been appointed vice-chairs.

Guidelines adopted included monitoring and surveillance of foodborne antimicrobial resistance and front-of-package nutrition labeling to help consumers understand the nutritional value of foods.

Event added in December
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Codex standards play a critical role in improving food safety and quality, promoting health and nutrition consumers and the protection of fair business practices.

“Codex is an essential part of our global efforts to improve the safety and quality of food. To address the issue of food safety, WHO (World Health Organization) is developing an updated WHO Global Strategy for Food Safety, which will set priorities and include clear goals. The updating of the strategy is carried out in close coordination with FAO and in consultation with Member States, the OIE and other stakeholders. In May 2022, the strategy will be taken up by the 75th World Health Assembly, ”he said.

Standards have been adopted for dried oregano, dried or dehydrated ginger, cloves and dried basil. Plans for new work included developing texts for small cardamom, turmeric, and spices in the form of dried fruits and berries. Efforts are underway on a standard for saffron, dried chili peppers and paprika.

Adoption of the report was slated for November, but is now expected to take place in a session on December 14 that will also include a discussion on the state of FAO and WHO food safety strategies that will begin in November. 2022.

Food contaminants
A standard on maximum cadmium levels in chocolate containing or declaring less than 30 percent cocoa solids on a dry matter basis and more than 30 percent and less than 50 percent cocoa solids has been adopted. The European Union has previously said it wants more stringent levels than those proposed, while the topic has also been raised at World Trade Organization meetings by countries like Peru.

Efforts on a code of good practice for the prevention and reduction of cadmium contamination in cocoa beans will continue in 2023.

The new plans include maximum levels of methylmercury in orange roughy and pink eel and the development of a code of good practice for the prevention and reduction of mycotoxin contamination in cassava and cassava products. cassava.

Work is underway to develop maximum levels for lead in certain food categories and for total aflatoxins in ready-to-eat peanuts with associated sampling plans.

QU Dongyu, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said Codex Alimentarius standards provide a solid basis for ensuring food safety.

“The work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission provides technical support for food safety and fair trade. Recognizing the importance of food safety, the FAO Ministerial Conference in June this year approved increased funding levels for FAO’s scientific advice program on food safety for the next biennium. “, did he declare.

Import and export issues
Guidance on the paperless use of electronic certificates has been adopted. It is intended to assist authorities with electronic certification exchanges to show that the food portion of international trade has met the importing country’s food safety requirements.

Proponents say it will reduce the time and cost of trading and can be connected to modern, risk-based electronic methods to facilitate food controls and inspection. However, others were wary of aspects related to the technology used.

Guidelines for the evaluation and use of voluntary third party insurance programs were supported. They focus on the structure, governance and components of these programs.

Work is underway on draft guidelines on the recognition and maintenance of equivalence of national food control systems and guidance on the prevention and control of food fraud is also planned.

Before Codex marks its 60th anniversary in 2023, there is a planned publication reflecting the anniversary and a project to improve the visibility of Codex standards.

Members are also considering skipping a Commission meeting in 2022 with the hope of having an in-person meeting in July 2023.

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