U.S. Codex News—Friday, November 16, 2012
A summary of recent and upcoming events published biweekly; direct inquiries to USCodex@fsis.usda.gov
Recent Committee Meetings
The Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) concluded its 44th Session in New Orleans on November 16. The meeting was attended by 206 members from 73 countries and 16 observer organizations. The Committee recommended two documents to the Codex Commission for adoption at step 5/8:
- Revision of the Principles for the Establishment and Application of Microbiological Criteria for Food; and
- Proposed Annex for Berries to the Code of Hygienic Practice for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.
The committee also:
- Recommended approval of new work for a general code for low moisture foods, which may incorporate work that the committee has done for revising the Codex of Hygienic Practices for Spices and Aromatic Dried Plants. Canada will lead an electronic working group, co-chaired by the United States, to develop the draft code;
- Endorsed the hygienic practices in the draft Code of Practice for Street-Vended Foods developed by the Committee for the Near East;
- Agreed that Australia should develop a discussion paper to propose draft guidelines for the control of zoonotic parasites in meat;
- Agreed to establish a new electronic working group, co-chaired by the European Union and New Zealand, to develop guidelines for member countries to use in achieving and maintaining negative risk status for Trichinella spiralis. This work will be done in collaboration with the Trichinella work of the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE); and
- Agreed to use, on an experimental basis, recommendations put forth by the CCFH working group for revising the "Process by which CCFH will undertake its work." The revision focuses on criteria, e.g., public health impact and trade implications, for evaluating and prioritizing proposals for new work undertaken by CCFH.
On November 14, the United States hosted a special panel discussion to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Codex Alimentarius. Hajime Toyofuku, of the National Institute of Health for Japan, opened the session by reading a letter of support from Sanjay Dave, Chairperson of the Codex Commission.
Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture Darci Vetter made an introductory presentation by describing the huge increase in the volume and variety of agricultural trade since the first Codex Commission meeting in 1963, and how this increase has created new food safety challenges for consumers, Codex member countries, and national regulators. Caroline Smith DeWaal, President of the International Association of Consumer Food Organizations, observed that national food safety regulatory authorities struggle to keep up with this growth in agricultural trade, so Codex provides the vital function of helping producers and regulators meet food safety standards. John Oppong Otoo of the Bureau of Standards of Ghana addressed challenges for developing countries and the growth of their participation in Codex. Michael Landa, Director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, commented on the challenges faced by food safety regulatory agencies. The final presentation by Gary Blumenthal, President of World Perspectives, suggested areas of technological change that Codex should be prepared to meet in the near future.
FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Asia (CCASIA) held its 18th Session in Tokyo, Japan, November 5-9, and agreed:
- to recommend the draft regional standard for tempe for adoption by the Codex Commission at step 5/8;
- to hold the regional standard for non-fermented soybean products at step 5 to conduct further work on the classification of compressed soybean curd and food additive provisions for composite/flavored soybean milk;
- to hold the regional standard for laver products at step 3 and establish an electronic working group (eWG) to consider whether the General Standard on Contaminants and Toxins in Food and Feed (GSCTFF) sufficiently addresses contaminants in laver products;
- to discontinue the work on standards for yuza due to lack of interest;
- to establish an eWG to collect consumption data for the development of a regional standard on edible insects;
- to support establishment of a Codex Committee on Spices, as proposed by India;
- to submit a new work proposal on a regional code of hygienic practice for street vended foods (Asia);
- to recommend Japan for another term as CCASIA coordinator.
Upcoming Committee Meetings
FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (CCLAC) : The 18th Session of CCLAC will meet in San José, Costa Rica, November 19-23. The United States will send an observer.
The Committee will consider a proposal for new work on a regional standard for yacon (smallanthus sonchifolius), an edible tuber that is said to have special dietary properties that would be useful to diabetics. An information copy of this proposal is available at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/us-codex-alimentarius/committees-and-task-forces/regional-coordinating-committees/latin-america-and-the-caribbean/ct_index
Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) will hold its 34th Session in Bad Soden, Germany, December 3-7, 2012. Information about the Committee and the upcoming session is available at: https://www.ccnfsdu.de/index.php?id=309.
The Codex Secretariat invites member countries and observer organizations to comment on the proposed draft revision of the Codex Classification of Food and Feed - select vegetable commodity groups which will be considered at Step 6 at the next session of CCPR (May 2013). The draft revision is available in the document REP/PR, para 117, and Appendix IX 9 (available online at: http://www.codexalimentarius.org/meetings-reports/en/?sortingDate=012012). Those interested in submitting proposals for consideration by the United States should submit comments to the U.S. Codex Office ( USCodex@fsis.usda.gov) by January 9, 2013. Codex Member countries and observer organizations interested in submitting comments should send their comments to the Codex Secretariat ( firstname.lastname@example.org) by January 15, 2013.
Mary Frances Lowe will enter on duty as the new U.S. Codex Manager on December 16, 2012. Her selection as the successor to Karen Stuck was announced in the November 2 news update.
Two long-time Codex delegates are stepping down from their positions:
- Dr. Dennis Keefe of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) is relinquishing his position as U.S. Delegate to the Committee on Food Additives . He will be replaced by Dr. Susan Carberry, the current Alternate Delegate, who is a supervisory chemist with CFSAN's Office of Food Additive Safety. Dr. Paul Honigfort, also from CFSAN, is the new U.S. Alternate Delegate.
- Dr. Barbara Schneeman, also from CFSAN, has announced plans to retire from FDA at the end of the year. She is the U.S. Delegate to the Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) and the Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) .
New Member: Turkmenistan has joined the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and will participate as a member of the European region. The addition of Turkmenistan raises the membership of the Commission to 186 (185 member countries + the European Union as the sole member organization). The European region now has 51 members (including the EU as a member organization).