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What is the U.S. Codex Office’s Role in Safe Food and Why does it Matter?

Posted by Amanda Humphreys, Program Analyst, U.S. Codex Office in Health and Safety
Jun 08, 2021
Closeup of person with plastic gloves preparing food

This year’s World Food Safety Day theme is “food safety is everyone’s business.” One group with members around the world is focused on the business of science-based food standards to protect consumer health.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) was established in 1963 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.

Codex drafts international food standards, guidelines, and codes of practice collectively known as Codex Alimentarius, meaning “food code” in Latin. One hundred and eighty-seven member countries and organizations compose the membership of Codex. Additionally, Codex has more than 200 intergovernmental and international nongovernmental observer organizations. Altogether, Codex membership represents about 99% of the world’s population.

Public concerns about food safety issues often place Codex at the center of global discussion. The United States Codex Office (USCO), housed in USDA’s Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, leads the U.S. Codex Program. Each day, USCO international issues analysts work with regulatory scientists and experts from various U.S. government agencies and nongovernment stakeholders to facilitate coordination, strategic planning, and outreach events on food standards. “We strive to make the world a safer place through safer food” said Marie Maratos Bhat, an analyst for the USCO who covers pesticide residues and food hygiene issues.

Ultimately, these efforts benefit consumers by providing greater assurance of the safety of imported foods. Trade organizations and agricultural producers also benefit because Codex standards open markets to fair trade in safe food.

It is the USCO’s mission to engage stakeholders in the development and advancement of science-based food standards for the benefit of the United States and the worldwide community. The United States Codex Office is proud to support World Food Safety Day.

Category/Topic: Health and Safety