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U.S. Codex Office

The U.S. Codex Office (USCO) is housed in the USDA’s Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs mission area. The USCO is composed of a small yet effective team that conducts international outreach and provides education to promote and support the development of a sustainable global agricultural system and improved international nutrition efforts.

The USCO’s mission is to engage stakeholders in the development and advancement of science-based food standards to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade worldwide. USCO manages the planning, policy development, support, and coordination for U.S. involvement in Codex, and develops strategies to accomplish U.S. objectives.

The USCO acts as the national focal point for the U.S. Codex Program. Several federal agencies participate in the U.S. Codex Program by providing senior staff and executive delegates to represent the United States on Codex committees, and the United States also chairs some committees.

Delegates to Codex committees (PDF, 221 KB) are primarily employed by regulatory agencies that set U.S. domestic food standards. Other U.S. agency officials participate in vital policy, coordination, and information dissemination activities relevant to their agency missions and interests.

Partnerships and Collaboration

Two senior-level interagency Steering Committees (PDF, 319 KB) guide the program’s work and direction.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is a joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Food Standards Program established in 1963 that formulates voluntary international standards, codes of practice, guidelines and codes of practice that constitute the Codex Alimentarius. The Codex Alimentarius, or “Food Code,” is the preeminent international food standards-setting body that protects the health of consumers and ensures fair practices in the food trade.

The CAC convenes annually and bases its work on recommendations from its subsidiary bodies composed of committees and task forces and is informed by expert advice that FAO and WHO scientific bodies provide. Today, the CAC is composed of 188 Member Countries, one Member Organization, and more than 200 intergovernmental and international non-governmental observer organizations. The CAC accomplishes its work through 10 currently active General Subject Committees, six to eight Commodity Committees, six Regional Coordinating Committees, and all of their supportive physical and electronic working groups. The Codex Executive Committee assists and advises the CAC on the management of Codex, including agenda-setting, strategic planning, critical review and funding for Codex Alimentarius.

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