In a move that could lead to an important increase in foreign exchange earnings for Near East countries, three highly popular regional foods advanced one step closer today to full international acceptance by the United Nations body that sets food safety, quality and trade standards.
Hummos, a dip of pureed chickpeas, Tahineh, a sesame seed paste and Ful Medammes, a dish of partially mashed fava beans, laced with herbs, spices and oil, all moved up to step five in the eight-step process set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a subsidiary of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The move, adopted by the Codex's regional Near East Coordinating Committee in Amman, Jordan, should lead to international acceptance in about two years by the full Commission, which allows consumers to purchase imported foods from around the world knowing that they meet international standards for safety and quality.
"The process of setting food standards is rigorous and long," said the head of the Codex Commission, Kazuaki Miyagishima. "It has to be that way to ensure consumers that the food they purchase is not only safe but of acceptable quality. The explosion of tourism and the increase in migration of people from one country and region to another has created a growing demand for good foods from around the world.
"This market has a lot of potential for Near Eastern countries and the Codex process ensures that these foods can be traded globally as that they can be purchased and consumed with confidence," he added.
Fourteen of the regional commission's 17 members attended the four-day Amman meeting which ended today. The Palestine Authority was present for the first time as an observer.