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U.S. Codex News—Friday, June 1, 2012

A summary of recent and upcoming events published biweekly; direct inquiries to USCodex@fsis.usda.gov

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Upcoming Public Meeting

Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC): The public meeting for the 35th Session will be held Tuesday, June 5, 1:00-4:00 p.m. in the Jamie Whitten Building of USDA, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington DC, Room 107-A. Individuals may also participate via teleconference by calling 1-888-858-2144; Participant Code: 6208658.

The public meeting will discuss U.S. draft positions for the items on the agenda for the Commission, including adoption of proposed standards and amendments to existing standards, the proposed revocation of existing standards, the approval of new work proposals and budgetary matters. For more details, see the agenda with links to documents to be discussed at: http://www.codexalimentarius.org/meetings-reports/en/.

The Commission will meet in Rome, Italy, July 2-7, 2012.

Recent Meeting

Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH): A physical Working Group, attended by approximately 80 participants from over 20 countries and 3 observer groups, was held in Parma, Italy, May 29-June 1 to further progress the Proposed Draft Principles and Guidelines for the Establishment and Application of Microbiological Criteria Related to Foods.

Due to the technical nature of the document, at its last session in November 2011, the CCFH established eight teams comprised of a mentor (developed country) and mentees (developing countries) to develop real life examples of how microbiological criteria for specific foods were developed. The examples could possibly serve as an annex to the main document. The teams worked electronically and via conference calls to develop their examples. Almost all the members of each team were present in Parma to discuss their examples, and all considered this to be a very valuable experience in understanding microbiological criteria. (One mentee described it as "not only being invited to the banquet, but also being taken to the kitchen to see how the food was prepared.")

The main document was revised based on the example experiences. The document will be sent out for comment at Step 3, and it is anticipated to be adopted at Step 5/8 at the CCFH meeting in November 2012.

Recent Outreach

Committee for Africa (CCAFRICA): A group of 16 officials who work on Codex issues from 8 African countries (Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Togo, and Uganda) participated in the second African Mentoring Program, from May 18-26, in Washington, DC. The program was organized by the U.S. Codex Office, in conjunction with the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service and the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at the Texas A & M University. The instructors included former USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety, Elsa Murano, and former Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Karen Hulebak.

The purpose of the program was to provide advice for strengthening Codex programs in their own countries as well as enhancing African participation in Codex meetings. The program featured discussions with the U.S. Codex Office staff, U.S. Delegates/Alternate Delegates, and other government experts, as well as meetings with representatives from the Food Industry Codex Coalition (FICC) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The visiting African officials included a former Vice Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, several Codex Contact Points and Chairpersons of Codex National Committees, National Directors of Food Safety, Directors of National Organizations of Standardization, and University Professors.

Committee for Africa (CCAFRICA): The U.S. Codex Office was invited to send an observer to the Third Pan-African Meeting of Codex Contact Points, which was convened by the African Union and Cameroon, the Coordinator for CCAFRICA, in Douala, Cameroon, May 29-31. The purpose of the meeting was to prepare regional positions for the issues on the agenda of the upcoming 35th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Rome, July 2-7). Representatives from 33 of the 50 CCAfrica member countries attended, along with officials from the African Union and the European Union.

Electronic Working Groups (eWG)

Committee on Food Additives (CCFA) has established two eWGs:

  • On the General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) to (1) implement a horizontal approach to provisions in Table 1 and 2 for food additives listed in Table 3 with "acidity regulators" function; (2) further elaborate the horizontal approach for food additives listed in Table 3 with "emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners" function; and (3) provide recommendations for provisions for the use of aluminum-containing food additives. The United States is chairing this working group, and invites member countries and observers interested in participating to send their contact information to ccfa@fda.hhs.gov by June 20, 2012.
  • On the development of criteria for the entry of substances into the database for processing aids. This eWG is being led by New Zealand, which invites member countries and observers interested in participation to provide contact information to John van den Beuken (john.vandenbeuken@mpi.govt.nz) with a copy to codexnz@mpi.govt.nz by June 20, 2012. Anyone with comments on the structure of the database should send those comments to Ms. Claire Ding of the Peoples Republic of China, ipa_db@ccfa.cc.

Committee on Methods of Analysis (CCMAS) invites member countries and interested observers to participate in an eWG to develop Explanatory Notes on Principles for the Use of Sampling and Testing in International Food Trade. The eWG, which will work in English only, is led by Germany with the assistance of New Zealand, the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan. A web-based shared workspace will be provided. Each member country or observer organization may nominate one &quotparticipant&quot and 3 &quotguests&quot who will be granted access to the shared workspace. Persons interested in receiving updates from the U.S. participant should contact the U.S. Codex Office (USCodex@fsis.usda.gov) by June 15. Other members and observer organizations should contact Meena Chandra of New Zealand ( meena.chandra@maf.govt.nz) by June 30.

Comments Requested

Committee for Asia (CCASIA) has requested comments from Codex members and interested international organizations on a proposed draft regional standard for tempe, a compact, white, cake-form product prepared from dehulled boiled soybeans through solid state fermentation with Rhizopus spp. The circular letter containing the proposed draft regional standard is available at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/us-codex-alimentarius/committees-and-task-forces/regional-coordinating-committees/asia/ct_index

Parties interested in contributing to a U.S. response should send their comments to USCodex@fsis.usda.gov by September 7, 2012. International organizations may send their comments directly to the Codex Secretariat (codex@fao.org), with a copy to Dr. Takako Yano, Secretary for the CCASIA, ccasia@nm.maff.go.jp by September 15.

Other News

Committee on Fats and Oils (CCFO) is undertaking new work to amend desmethylsterols levels and fatty acid composition for rice bran oil in the Codex Standard on Named Vegetable Oils (Codex Stan 210-1999). If you would like to submit data, please contact the Thai Codex Contact Point (codex@acfs.go.th) by July 31 for additional information.

Committee on Fish and Fishery Products (CCFFP): The FAO published Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 551: Assessment and Management of Biotoxin Risks in Bivalve Molluscs. The publication is available online: http://www.fao.org/docrep/015/i2356e/i2356e00.htm. Proposed draft performance criteria for reference and confirmatory methods, as well as for screening methods for marine biotoxins for the Standard for Raw and Live Bivalve Molluscs will be considered at the next session of CCFFP meeting in Indonesia, October 1-5, 2012.

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Last Modified Sep 10, 2013