Codex: Shaping Global Food Standards to Create Solutions for All Stakeholders

The 49th session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA)

The role that the Codex Alimentarius plays in shaping global food safety standards that create win-win-win solutions for governments, industries and consumers was highlighted by a delegation led by Food Industry Asia (FIA) that participated in the 49th session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA), which took place 20-24 March in Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR), China.

A Food Industry Asia (FIA) delegation, led by Ms YiFan Jiang, FIA's Regional Regulatory Affairs Manager, and comprising of members from Coca-Cola, Godiva, Hershey’s, Kellogg’s, Nestlé and Starbucks, participated in the meeting. FIA, as an official Codex Observer and representative of the food industry in Asia, was given a platform to provide its inputs concerning the shaping of standards for food additives at this meeting.

During the meeting in Macau, FIA actively engaged with the other industry organisations to coordinate industry positions and communicate these positions with the country delegations, which contributed to more consensus-making in the Committee’s discussions.

“The meeting provided FIA and our members a very good opportunity to make our voice heard on the Review Codex General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA), to revise or establish new food additives provisions in various food categories,” said Ms Jiang.

According to Ms Jiang, in addition to this, a number of issues that had been the key standing items on the CCFA agenda were also discussed. This included:

- Alignment of the food additive provisions of commodity standards, with the aim to use GSFA as the single reference for all food additives in the Codex system
- Review of the International Numbering System (INS) for food additives
- Proposal of a priority list of substances for evaluation, or re-evaluation by the FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)
- Review of specifications and identity of substances
Additionally, in this session, the Chairman invited delegates to discuss the management of CCFA work, which is a proposal led by China and the USA, calling for a comprehensive review of the work done by the Committee to suggest ways for CCFA to improve its work.

From the discussions, the Committee suggested that the following issues be addressed and improved on:

- New food additive proposals: Principles should be established to guide the prioritisation of new additives to be included in the GSFA
- JECFA evaluation: establish prioritisation criteria for processing aids, flavours and other substances for evaluation by JECFA
- Processing aids: establish a general standard for processing aids
- Colours: develop a mechanism that provides ways of including colours into the GSFA
- Unauthorized substances: address concerns around the issue of use of unauthorized substances; Sudan Red and melamine, for example

It was therefore concluded that going forward, the CCFA will develop a paper on “Future Strategies for CCFA”, for discussion at the next Codex session in March 2018.


The FIA delegation

It was the first time, for some members of the FIA-led delegation, participating in a Codex meeting. These members found the opportunity very helpful in understanding how Codex standards are set, and their impact on national food standards and trade. Members also had the opportunity to interact with government and industry delegations from all around the world, as well as to understand the differences in food standards across different countries and regions.

The goal of international standards-setting bodies like Codex is to create a more harmonised approach in setting national food standards, in order to facilitate trade and protect consumers’ health. The Codex platform has provided a great example of international collaboration and public-private partnership in shaping global food standards.