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CODEX ALIMENTARIUS

Established by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1963, the Codex Alimentarius, or “Food Code,” is the preeminent international food standards-setting body that protects the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade through the establishment of voluntary international standards, guidelines, and codes of practices.

U.S. Codex Program

The U.S. Codex Program is an interagency partnership that engages stakeholders in advancing science-based food standards to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade.

Several federal agencies participate in the U.S. Codex Program through providing senior staff and executive delegates to represent the United States on many Codex committees, and the United States also chairs some committees. These Delegates to Codex committees (PDF, 189 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.

Two senior-level interagency Steering Committees guide the program’s work and direction.

U.S. Codex Office

The U.S. Codex Office (USCO), housed in USDA’s Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, acts as the national focal point for the U.S. Codex Program. Its mission is to engage stakeholders in the development and advancement of science-based food standards for the benefit of the United States and the worldwide community. USCO manages the planning, policy development, support, and coordination for U.S. involvement in Codex, and develops strategies to accomplish U.S. objectives.

  • Codex News and Announcements: Sign up for regularly updated announcements and news highlighting activities in Codex.
  • Codex News Archives: Visit the archives for recent announcements and news.
  • Delegate Reports: After every Codex Committee and Commission meeting, the U.S. Codex Program reports on outcomes of each session from a U.S. perspective.
  • Federal Register Notices and Public Meetings: These Notices describe Codex activities prior to public meetings and the annual Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting. Public meetings precede each international Codex session to inform those interested in Codex activities and to take public comment.

Contact the U.S. Codex Office at uscodex@osec.usda.gov.

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The Codex Alimentarius Commission and Subsidiary Bodies

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), which convenes annually, bases its work on recommendations from its subsidiary bodies (committees and task forces), 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, one Task Force, six Regional Coordinating Committees, and all of their supportive physical and electronic working groups (PWGs and EWGs). 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.