The Codex Alimentarius, or just Codex for short, is an international set of food standards that protect public health by ensuring food safety and promoting fair trade practices. It is produced by an international commission that formulates voluntary international standards, codes of practice, and guidelines that make up the Codex Alimentarius. As we observe World Food Safety Day and the 60th anniversary of the Codex Commission’s founding, we celebrate food standards for defining the path to safe food for everyone, everywhere.
Transparency and inclusiveness are core values of Codex. Those core values increase the organization’s effectiveness and are a big part of why Codex is so meaningful to U.S. food and agricultural stakeholders.
Codex has shown time and again that it wants all voices at the table to ensure its standards reflect the realities of food production, consider the needs of the marketplace, and ensure food safety. Beyond its 189 member governments, the Commission currently recognizes 235 Codex Observers (60 intergovernmental organizations, 159 non-government organizations and 16 United Nations organizations).
U.S. food and agricultural stakeholders participate in and contribute to Codex in a variety of ways. These include submitting data that Codex risk assessment bodies use in their assessments, contributing technical expertise in the Codex standards development process, and even promoting the use of Codex standards by governments around the world.
Codex standards, guidelines, and codes of practice address the entire food production chain. It publishes individual product standards, develops general standards covering issues (including food hygiene, additives, labeling, nutrition, contaminants, and pesticide residues), develops methods of analysis, and more.
Food regulators can incorporate Codex texts into their regulations knowing they are science and risk-based, while being no more trade restrictive than necessary. Food producers can follow Codex texts when formulating products or implementing practices to ensure the products they produce are safe while maximizing their potential to enter international trade. And, at home and abroad, consumers can be assured of the safety and quality of the foods they eat because Codex constantly develops and updates its reference texts to reflect the latest risk-assessment and scientific evidence.
Codex’s dual food safety and trade mandate, combined with its commitment to science, transparency and inclusiveness, create a unique win-win situation for our increasingly globalized food supply.