The Codex Alimentarius is the food code that has become the global food standard for consumer foods, food producers and processors, national food regulatory agencies and international trade practices. The code has enormous impact and its influence extends to every continent.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It chalked out the blueprint to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts, such as codes of practice, under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
The main purposes of this Programme are protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organisations.
Ever since its creation, the Commission coordinates all of the food standards work done by international governmental and non-governmental organisations and makes recommendations for compliance regulations.
With the 1985 UN Resolution (39/248), the Codex became the guideline for governments in developing and enforcing consumer protection policies around the world. Various international trade agreements in the global food market have also called for complying with the Codex.
Its standards have also become the benchmarks against which food regulations are evaluated within the legal parameters of WHO agreements. The reach of the Codex, however, has changed over the years.
The Codex system has presented a unique opportunity for all countries to join the international community in formulating and harmonising food standards and ensuring their global implementation.
It also allows them a role in the development of codes governing hygienic processing practices and recommendations relating to compliance with those standards.
The Codex Alimentarius is not the only product of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Its scientific mission has become as influential.
It establishes the scientific standards for food quality and safety, food production, labeling laws, food legislation and food regulations.
Its scientific reviews and science- based efforts bring together experts and specialists from a wide range of disciplines “to ensure that its standards withstand the most rigorous scientific scrutiny.”
The WHO and the FAO point out that the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission has provided a focal point for foodrelated scientific research and investigation, and the Commission itself has become an important international medium for the exchange of scientific information about food.
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