Have you ever wondered how your food is grown or made? Or, if your food is from another country, how do you know it’s safe? Who sets standards for the food that come from other countries? If you’ve ever asked these questions or pondered similar thoughts, you should learn more about the CODEX ALIMENTARIUS.
Codex Alimentarius, established in 1961, is an international standards-setting body overseen by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations with the mandate of ensuring a safe food supply and facilitating international trade.
Codex brings together over 400 member nations and recognized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to establish nutrition, safety and trade standards that are reflective of sound science and fair trade practices. These standards help local farmers and smaller nations gain access to foreign markets while helping to guarantee safety for consumers everywhere. Food producers that wish to export their products to foreign markets can follow Codex standards to ensure safe growing, processing, packaging, testing and shipping practices, while knowing their products will be accepted in most national markets around the world. This helps promote international food trade and protect consumers in the increasingly globalized food supply chain.
Numerous Codex committees and task forces meet on a regular basis to discuss and propose standards that help promote the safety and availability of food. These meetings are transparent, inclusive and operate on consensus ensuring that no single country or organization is able to dominate the discussion. This provides a level playing field where consumer safety and science are prioritized and all voices are heard.
Standards adopted at the committee level are then reviewed for approval by the Codex Commission. If adopted, the standards are issued to all Codex stakeholders and posted online. Member nations may then adopt the standards into their own regulations or instruct local growers and producers of the standards. Companies may also follow the standards voluntarily if they intend to export their products. These transparent standards, which are readily available in multiple languages, allow all food producers and countries to follow consistent and globally accepted guidelines.
When it comes to the growing needs of the global population, Codex ensures food traded between nations is safe, healthy and available. The standards put forth by Codex help foster uniform practices for all food producers. Codex benefits all of those involved in the food trade, from local farmers and small businesses to the largest importing and exporting economies.