UN commission on global food standards takes action against dangerous bacteria

6 July 2009

Dozens of new international standards, including measures to curb dangerous bacteria in food, have been adopted by the United Nations commission on international food standards at the end of a week-long meeting.

Among the measures passed by the body, known officially as the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), guidance has been formulated to help prevent the contamination of Ochratoxin A, a fungal toxin which can also cause cancer in humans, in coffee.

It also approved measures to avert the formulation of acrylamide, a potentially dangerous chemical, in potato products.

CAC was established in 1963 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) to set food standards to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade.

During its meeting in Rome, which was attended by some 500 people representing 125 countries, the body also launched new projects, including schemes to set maximum levels for melamine in food and feed.

A chemical most commonly found in the form of white crystals, melamine can cause kidney stones when consumed, potentially stop the production of urine, lead to kidney failure and in some cases death.

“Applying Codex standards and guidelines are an important part of ensuring that consumers in every part of the world can be protected from unsafe food,” said Ezzeddine Boutrif, FAO Director of the Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division.

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