Speaking at the opening ceremony, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu noted that since 1963, Codex has grown to 189 members from the original 30. “Sixty years ago, the objective was to highlight the rapidly growing importance of internationally accepted food standards as a means of protecting consumer and producers globally and to effectively reduce trade barriers – these objectives are still very relevant today,” he said.

“More than ever, there continues to be an important emphasis on science and risk assessment as the basis for standards, as we look to science to prevent food from becoming unsafe and to reduce the risk of foodborne illness,” he added.

"The Codex Alimentarius brings together the world’s top scientist to analyze all available data and discuss specific microbiological or chemical hazards. Their deliberations concentrate on the protection of the most vulnerable, such as children and pregnant women, and take into consideration local and regional differences in food consumption," Qu explained, noting that due to the longer and more complex food chain of today, prevention and control systems for food safety, like Codex, have become increasingly important and significant.  Codex also defines the quality of food by providing guidance on hygiene, labeling, nutrition, and the measurement and sampling techniques that attest to its safety.

The 46th session Commission will discuss adopting a range of new texts and guidelines in line with its objectives of ensuring the production and trade of safe food. The main objective of Codex is to establish worldwide food standards rooted in scientific evidence and objective criteria. The focus of these standards is to assess scientific findings and potential risks, all while prioritizing food safety and decreasing the likelihood of food-borne illness. The scientific foundation for these standards is provided by the WHO and FAO.

These recommendations are voluntary for member states, but they provide a structure for national health laws. Thanks to them, consumers are increasingly protected from unsafe or low-quality food purchases, and importers have greater confidence that they will receive conforming shipments of goods. The Commission aims to make sure that worldwide food standards are the same and guidelines for food safety, quality, and fair practices are created and upheld.

In its six decades of activity, the Commission has adopted thousands of guidelines and codes of practice and has become a global benchmark for the safe production, storage, and distribution of food around the world.

After the plenary discussions that began today, three side events will occur on Friday, December 1, to discuss the implementation of standards, the decrease of foodborne antimicrobial resistance, and the Codex Trust Fund. The adoption of the final report is planned for Saturday, December 2, 2023.

Source: FAO
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