ITALY – The UN food standards body, the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is meeting this week to set food safety and quality standards to protect consumer health and ensure fair practices in food trade.

The 45th Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC45) meeting, which is the first physical session in three years, brought together nearly 400 delegates joined by over 350 online ones.

CAC is the organization that develops global food standards, guidelines and codes of practice for food safety and quality.

It was established nearly 60 years ago by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade.

QU Dongyu Director-General of FAO, welcomed participants and underlined how rapidly advancing technology has made hybrid meetings such as CAC45 possible in full transparency, ensuring no one is left behind.

Science and data play a crucial role in the work of the Codex standard-setting body, he said, also making reference to the recent World Food Forum and the critical role of science, technology and innovation for agri-food systems transformation globally.

“A transformation of the world’s food systems is needed urgently, based on a One Health approach that protects and promotes the health of humans, animals and the planet.

“The Codex Alimentarius has a critical role to play in guiding country regulations that promote health, while facilitating fair trade,” he continued.

Tedros underlined WHO’s commitment to continue working with FAO to develop and deliver high-quality scientific advice and evidence-based Global Food Safety Guidelines and standards.

Among the standards to be adopted by the Commission in this session is a ground-breaking set of guidelines on Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) used for children with severe acute malnutrition. 

Other measures to be adopted include Guidelines for the Management of Biological Foodborne Outbreaks, standards for fresh dates and onions and shallots and a Code of Practice for Prevention and Reduction of Cadmium Contamination in Cocoa Beans.

Also speaking at the gathering was Steve Wearne, who had just been re-elected as the Chairperson of the Commission.

Steve serves as the UK Food Standards Agency’s Director of Global Affairs. His career in international and UK government food regulation has spanned more than 30 years.

He has focused on issues related to food policy and science, including the modernization of regulatory practice in addition to additives and sweeteners, as well as veterinary residues and other contaminants in food.

He is dedicated to bringing about a Codex that is transparent, inclusive, and resolutely grounded in science.

As CAC’s inaugural chairman, he spoke of the “buzz of excitement” that accompanied the group’s physical reunion.

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