Recent Committee Meetings:
The Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) held its 39th Session in Quebec City, Canada, May 9-13.
Among major developments, the United States joined dozens of other countries in finalizing work
compiling a list of existing Codex texts that apply to foods derived from modern biotechnology.
The work confirms that Codex labeling texts developed for foods generally also apply to foods
derived from modern biotechnology. This draft text clarifies that foods derived from modern
biotechnology are not necessarily different from other foods simply due to their method of
The Committee also agreed to the declaration of "sodium" on the list of nutrients, but
included a footnote allowing national authorities to express the total amount of sodium in salt
equivalents as "salt."
The Committee considered a number of agenda items related to the Organic Foods Guidelines,
including an agreement to a structured approach for the future review of substances to be added
to the Guidelines and a proposal for new work, based on the past year’s electronic working group
recommendation to include spinosad, copper octanoate, potassium bicarbonate and certain uses
of ethylene as new substances for inclusion in the Guidelines.
Upcoming Committee Meetings:
The FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Near East (CCNEA) opens its 6th
Session in Hammamet, Tunisia, May 23. The agenda features three issues that have been referred
for a regional opinion: the revision of the Codex Strategic Plan, private standards, and whether
to retain the processed cheese standard. The Committee will consider the proposed draft Code of
Practice for Street-Vended Foods, and two proposed draft regional standards (harissa and halwa
tehenia). The Committee will also consider project documents proposing regional draft standards
for two other commodities (doogh and camel milk). The Committee will also recommend a new
CCNASWP: The United States, Australia, New Zealand and the FAO conducted a
workshop, May 10-12, for the Pacific Island Countries who are members of the committee for
North America and Southwest Pacific (CCNASWP). The workshop, held in Samoa, was attended by the
eight countries: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea,
Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Tonga.
The first two days of the workshop focused on four themes: Codex Contact Point Roles
and Responsibilities; Managing Codex at the National Level; Effective Participation in Codex;
and Developing National and Regional Strategies for Codex. On the third day, the group continued
discussions originally covered at the 11th Session of CCNASWP in Tonga in September 2010, regarding
a harmonized approach to date marking in the region. The workshop concluded with a discussion on
the upcoming Codex Commission session, including: election of new Commission Chair/Vice Chairpersons,
regional coordinator transition, and standards for adoption. A case study on ractopamine was presented
in support of the scientific process in Codex standard setting.
CCAfrica: A group of 16 officials from Africa arrived in Washington for a mentoring
program organized by the U.S. Codex Office, the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
(JIFSAN), and the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service. The program featured capacity-building workshops
with U.S. expert consultants on Codex, May 16-18, and participation in the U.S. Codex Delegates
training seminar, May 19-20 (see Other News, below). The program features officials from Cameroon,
Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia and the African Union’s Inter-African
Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), and concludes on May 25.
Veterinary Policy Group: Members of the U.S. Codex Office explained the Codex
standard-setting process on May 18 to five veterinarians on a program organized by Washington State
University to study the relationship of national and intergovernmental standards for livestock care
with global commerce and agricultural development. Two veterinarians earned degrees at Makerere
University in Uganda.
New Working Groups:
The Committee on Food Additives (CCFA) inaugurated an electronic working group
(eWG) on prioritization criteria for the reevaluation of food additives by JECFA. This eWG is led
The Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF) inaugurated four eWGs. Two eWGs will focus on
elaboration of maximum levels (MLs): (1) deoxynivalenol (DON) in cereals and cereal-based products,
led by Canada; and (2) arsenic in rice, led by China. Two eWGs will develop discussion papers on (3)
ochratoxin A in cocoa, led by Ghana; and (4) mycotoxins in sorghum, led by Nigeria.
The U.S. Codex Delegates Training Seminar took place in Greenbelt, MD, May 19-20.
The seminar was designed to help participants understand: (1) how to organize and lead a delegation;
(2) how to develop and implement strategies for advancing national positions; and (3) how to balance
the Codex dual mandate of protecting public health and ensuring fair practices in the food trade.
Sixteen officials from Africa, visiting Washington on a separate program, also participated in this
Intergovernmental Task Force on Animal Feed: Eva Richard, Assistant Director
General of the Federal Office of Agriculture in Switzerland, circulated an informal note on May 17
to introduce herself as the new Chairperson of the Task Force and to announce a website:
http://www.codextfaf.ch/ to support the Task Force, which was
re-activated at the 33rd Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
Previous Codex News: