Report of the U.S. Delegate, 43rd Session, Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA)
The 43rd Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA) met in Xiamen, Fujian Province, Peoples Republic of China, March 14-18, 2011. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Junshi Chen and attended by 54 delegations, one member organization (European Union), 27 observers from international organizations, and FAO and WHO.
The U.S. Government participation in the meeting included: Dr. Dennis Keefe (Head of Delegation), Dr. Susan Carberry (Alternate Delegate), Dr. Daniel Folmer (technical expert), Dr. Paul Honigfort (technical expert), Ms. Barbara McNiff (U.S. Codex Office), Ms. Mari Kirrane (TTB), and Mr. Chih Young-Wu (FAS/USDA).
The Committee had a long agenda, and discussed all but one of the items (Agenda Item 5c: Comments and information on several food additives (CX/FA 11/43/9)) and part of another (CX/FA 11/43/7 - Part II (Miscellaneous Additives)). The highlights of the decisions made by the Committee are outlined below.
Endorsement and/or Revision of Maximum Levels for Food Additives and Processing Aids in Codex Standards
The Committee endorsed the food additive section in the proposed draft Standard for Desiccated Coconut, the proposed draft Standard for Canned Bamboo Shots, and the proposed draft Annex on Certain Canned Mushrooms, as proposed by the Codex Committee on Processed Fruits and Vegetables (CCPFV).
The Committee endorsed the food additive section in the draft regional Standard for Edible Sago Flour, and in the proposed draft regional Standard for Chili Sauce (with the exception of curcumin and paprika oleoresin), as proposed by the Coordinating Committee for Asia (CCASIA). The Committee also endorsed the provision for monosodium tartrate (INS 336(i)) in the regional Standard for Fermented Soybean Paste, as proposed by CCASIA.
Discussion Paper on the Alignment of the Food Additive Provisions of the Standards for Meat Products and Relevant Provisions of the General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA)
The Committee recognized the importance of integrating the food additive provisions in the commodity standards with the GSFA. The Committee agreed to establish an electronic Working Group (eWG), led by Australia, to continue work on the discussion paper, including a decision-tree approach, for consideration at the next Session. The eWG will also develop proposals for the revision of the food additive provisions in the five commodity standards for processed meat.
The Committee discussed proposals for the inclusion of new additive provisions for lauric arginate ethyl ester (LAEE; INS 243) and for steviol glycosides (INS 960), as well as draft and proposed draft provisions for several colors and other additives, in the GSFA. The Committee forwarded 193 food additive provisions for adoption at Step 8 or 5/8 by the 34th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), and recommended that the CAC revoke 11 food additive provisions from Tables 1 and 2, and 3 food additives listed in Table 3. The Committee discontinued work on 117 draft and proposed draft provisions. Further information was requested on several proposed draft provisions for steviol glycosides for discussion at the next Session. Cassia gum (INS 427) was included in Table 3 at Step 3, and comments were requested on its use in the food categories listed in the Annex to Table 3. Comments were also requested on the draft and proposed draft provisions for erythrosine (INS 127), LAEE, and steviol glycosides in Tables 1 and 2.
The Committee agreed to establish a GSFA eWG, led by the United States, to consider the provisions in Tables 1 and 2 of the GSFA for those additives listed in Table 3 that have the function of "acidity regulator" or "emulsifier, stabilizer, thickener" using a horizontal approach (i.e., identify the food categories in the Annex to Table 3 in which the use of these functional classes was technologically justified).
The Committee also agreed to establish a physical WG that will meet just prior to the 44th CCFA plenary and chaired by the United States to consider the recommendations of the GSFA eWG and apply them to the relevant food additive provisions in Tables 1 and 2 of the GSFA; the food additive provisions that were not discussed at the current Session; and the report of an eWG, led by Brazil, that would analyze the food additive provisions for aluminum-containing additives.
GSFA Food Category System
The Committee agreed to revise the descriptors of several food categories related to confectionary products (excluding chewing gum) in order to clarify the scope of products included in each category. The revisions were forwarded to the CAC for adoption at Step 5/8.
The Committee briefly discussed the need to revise the title and descriptor of food category 16.0 (Composite foods - foods that could not be placed in food categories 01 - 15), but could not reach consensus. The Committee decided to establish an eWG, led by the United States, to develop a discussion paper that would propose revisions to the title and descriptor of this food category, and provide examples of the products included in this category, taking into account the discussion and comments received at this Session.
GSFA Note 161 ("Subject to national legislation of the importing country aimed, in particular, at consistency with Section 3.2 of the Preamble")
The Committee could not reach consensus regarding the use of Note 161. Several delegations, including the United States, expressed concern that the use of Note 161 undermines the scientific basis of Codex, that the Note has been overused, and that its use should be eliminated. The United States was supported by delegations from Africa and Latin America, who expressed concern over the implications of the use of this Note on trade. Other delegations primarily from the European region were of the opinion that the use of the Note was important, particularly because the procedures established in Section 3.2 of the Preamble of the GSFA and in the Procedural Manual had not been rigorously followed. Note 161 was not associated with any of the food additive provisions on which the CCFA advanced for final adoption. The Committee agreed to establish an eWG, led by South Africa, to prepare a discussion paper on the application of Note 161 in the GSFA, and in particular to formulate recommendations to facilitate uniform implementation of Section 3.2 of the Preamble of the GSFA to address the use of Note 161.
Discussion Paper on the Revision of Section 4 (Carry-over of Food Additives into Food) of the Preamble of the GSFA
The Committee revised the text of Section 4 of the Preamble of the GSFA and forwarded it to the 34th CAC for final adoption.
Other Agenda Items
The Committee also considered matters referred from the CAC, and from the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA); food additive provisions in the Standard for Infant Formulas and Formula for Special Medical Purposes; revision of the Standard for Food Grade Salt; amendments to the International Numbering System (INS) for food additives; specifications from the 73rd JECFA; priority list of additives for JECFA review; and development of a database for processing aids.
The next Session of the CCFA is tentatively scheduled for March 12-16, 2012, in Beijing, Peoples Republic of China.