after 40 years of its inception Codex Alimentarius, the internationally recognised quality standards for food products, is in for its first re-evaluation. The assessment will be conducted by Food and Agriculture Organisation (fao) and World Health Organisation (who).
The re-evaluation will also include comments from the public. The objective behind the move, according to the concerned authorities, is to ensure a food standards programme that can serve the concerns of all in terms of health, safety and food trade.
"We welcome this timely review as both in developed and developing countries, the number and variety of food safety threats are on the increase,' states Gro Harlem Brundtland, director-general (dg), who. Brundtland points out that there is an urgent need to ensure that international food standards respond to the challenges of the new millennium and to the needs of all people. fao dg Jacques Diouf agrees: "Food standards need to be enhanced to address global food safety and quality. This evaluation will focus on the practical aspect of food standards.'
The review, to be carried out by an independent evaluation team and expert panel, will be completed by 2003. The report of the team will include recommendations for consideration by the governing bodies of fao and who. The team also proposes to consult member countries of the two bodies and other stakeholders. In addition to a questionnaire on key issues to be sent to member states and stakeholders, the entire process will include country visits, in-depth interviews and literature reviews. The issues for the public to comment include the relevance and adequacy of the code and on other food standards.
Established in 1962 under the un, Codex Alimentarius sets global benchmarks for food additives, pesticides, chemicals and contaminants. It serves 168 countries which comprise almost 98 per cent of the world's population.