Plans for major review of international food code announced by two UN agencies

22 April 2002

Aiming to address emerging health and safety concerns, two United Nations agencies today jointly announced plans to review the international food code.

The review by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) marks the first time that the “Codex Alimentarius”– already in operation for 40 years – will be evaluated.

WHO Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland stressed that the number and variety of food safety threats are increasing in all parts of the world. “We need to ensure that international food standard work responds to the challenges of the new millennium in order to meet more effectively the needs of the world’s people,” she said.

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf pointed out that food safety and quality issues must be examined closely. “National capabilities to use and apply food standards must be enhanced if global food safety is ever to be realized,” he said.

In announcing the review, the agencies noted that since the Codex Alimentarius Commission was established 40 years ago, public concern over food safety issues has grown dramatically, with consumers “much more aware of what they regard as threats to their health, and of their rights to full information on foods.” The agencies also pointed to growing recognition of the link between safe food, a balanced diet and overall health and productivity.

As part of the evaluation, comments will be solicited from the public to ensure that all those with a stake in the use of the food standards can make their views known.

The review, which will be carried out by an independent Evaluation Team and an Expert Panel, is scheduled to be completed in early 2003.


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