$40 million UN trust fund to help poor countries food safety forum
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) established the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in 1962 to set safety standards and ensure fair practices in food trade. However, many developing countries have not fully participated in the work of the CAC because of the cost involved in attending meetings and working groups. The new Project and Fund for Enhanced Participation in Codex is meant to remedy that situation.
“All countries, especially the developing countries, need to be fully involved in the international debate and in drawing up policy guidance on food safety and trade," FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said.
The new FAO/WHO trust fund, expected to run for 12 years, will help some 120 developing countries and countries in transition increase their participation in the vital work of the Commission. The CAC currently has 168 member countries.
“This will enable all Codex Members both to improve the quality and safety of food at home, and to be more effective when trading their food internationally," WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland said at the Geneva launch.
Food safety standards have become increasingly important in recent years, as countries faced a number of food safety crises, such as mad cow disease, dioxin contamination of animal feed and listeria contamination of milk products and ready-to-eat foods. According to FAO and WHO, appropriate food standards, when properly implemented, serve to safeguard the health of consumers and also contribute to a rule-based trading system that is predictable and non-discriminatory.