Codex Alimentarius

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The Codex Alimentarius (Latin for "food code" or "food book") is a collection of internationally recognized standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations relating to foods, food production and food safety under the aegis of consumer protection. These texts are developed and maintained by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a body that was established in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Commission's main aims are stated as being to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the international food trade. The Codex Alimentarius is recognized by the World Trade Organization as an international reference point for the resolution of disputes concerning food safety and consumer protection.

Scope

The Codex Alimentarius officially covers all foods, whether processed, semi-processed or raw, but far more attention has been given to foods that are marketed directly to consumers. In addition to standards for specific foods, the Codex Alimentarius contains general standards covering matters such as food labeling, food hygiene, food additives and pesticide residues, and procedures for assessing the safety of foods derived from modern biotechnology. It also contains guidelines for the management of official (i.e., governmental) import and export inspection and certification systems for foods.

The Codex Alimentarius is published in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish. Not all texts are available in all languages.

General texts

  • Food labeling (general standard, guidelines on nutrition labeling, guidelines on labeling claims)
  • Food additives (general standard including authorized uses, specifications for food grade chemicals)
  • Contaminants in foods (general standard, tolerances for specific contaminants including radionuclides, aflatoxins and other mycotoxins)
  • Pesticide and veterinary chemical residues in foods (maximum residue limits)
  • Risk assessment procedures for determining the safety of foods derived from biotechnology (DNA-modified plants, DNA-modified micro-organisms, allergens)
  • Food hygiene (general principles, codes of hygienic practice in specific industries or food handling establishments, guidelines for the use of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point or “HACCP” system)
  • Methods of analysis and sampling

Specific standards

Authority

The 28th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission was held July 4 - July 9, 2005. [1] Among the many issues discussed were the "Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements"[2], which were adopted during the meeting as a new global standard. This text has been the subject of considerable controversy, in part because many member countries regulate these substances as therapeutic goods or pharmaceuticals and not as foods (if they were not foods, they would be excluded from the Codex Alimentarius). The text does not seek to ban supplements, but to subject them to dosage, labeling and composition requirements.

The Guidelines have attracted concern from both consumers and industry due to the potential for restrictions on vitamins and minerals as nutritional supplements. The health freedom movement has pointed to greater concerns related to restrictions on dietary supplement ingredients in Europe via the European Union's Food Supplements Directive [3] (which utilizes approved lists of ingredients and ingredient forms) and potentially restrictive dosage limits to be based on a Codex model via the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Nutrient Risk Assessment Project. [4]

See also

External links

References

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