The Codex Alimentarius: Safe, Quality Food for All

Codex Alimentarius is focused on ensuring that everyone has access to safe and good quality food. In the past, food was mostly produced, sold, and consumed locally, but over the past century, the amount of food traded internationally has increased dramatically. Nowadays, a greater quantity and variety of food is transported globally than ever before.

International Food Standards

The international food standards, guidelines, and codes of practice set by Codex Alimentarius contribute to the safety, quality, and fairness of the global food trade. This ensures that consumers can trust the safety and quality of the food they purchase and that importers can trust that the food they receive meets their specifications.

Protecting Consumer Health

Codex Alimentarius often finds itself at the center of global debates about food safety. Issues such as veterinary drugs, pesticides, food additives, and contaminants are discussed in Codex meetings. The standards set by Codex are based on sound science provided by independent international risk assessment bodies or ad-hoc consultations organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.

Although Codex standards are recommended for voluntary application by members, they serve as the basis for national legislation in many cases.

Facilitating International Trade

The reference to Codex food safety standards in the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) means that Codex plays a crucial role in resolving trade disputes. WTO members who wish to apply stricter food safety measures than those set by Codex must provide scientific justification for doing so.

Since its establishment in 1963, Codex has evolved in an open, transparent, and inclusive manner to address emerging challenges. The international food trade is now a 2,000 billion dollar industry, with billions of tons of food being produced, marketed, and transported.

The General Principles of Codex Alimentarius

Purpose of Codex Alimentarius

Codex Alimentarius is a collection of internationally adopted food standards and related texts presented in a uniform manner. These standards aim to protect consumers’ health and ensure fairness in the food trade. The publication of Codex Alimentarius is intended to guide and promote the development of food standards and requirements that will help harmonize international trade.

Scope of Codex Alimentarius

Codex Alimentarius includes standards for all types of food, whether processed, semi-processed, or raw, for distribution to consumers. It also includes provisions for materials used in further food processing, if necessary, to achieve the goals of Codex Alimentarius. The standards cover areas such as food hygiene, food additives, pesticide and veterinary drug residues, contaminants, labeling and presentation, analysis and sampling methods, and inspection and certification for import and export.

Nature of Codex Standards

Codex standards and related texts are not intended to replace or be an alternative to national legislation. Each country has its own laws and administrative procedures that must be followed.

The standards and texts set by Codex aim to ensure that consumers receive a safe, wholesome food product that is free from adulteration and correctly labeled and presented. A Codex standard for any food must be created in accordance with the Format for Codex Commodity Standards and contain the appropriate sections.

Revision of Codex Standards

The Codex Alimentarius Commission and its subsidiary bodies are committed to revising Codex standards and related texts as needed to reflect current scientific knowledge and other relevant information. If a revision is required, it will be done in accordance with the Procedures for the Elaboration of Codex Standards and Related Texts.

Each member of the Codex Alimentarius Commission is responsible for identifying and presenting to the appropriate committee any new scientific or relevant information that may warrant the revision

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