Washington, D.C., 21–25 October 1996
1. The Codex Committee on Food Hygiene held its Twenty-Ninth Session in Washington, D.C., from 21 to 25 October 1996, at the kind invitation of the Government of the United States of America. The session was chaired by Dr. I. Kaye Wachsmuth, Assistant Deputy Administrator, Science and Technology, Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture. The session was attended by 203 delegates, advisors and observers representing 42 Member Countries and 13 international organizations. A complete list of participants, including the Secretariat, is provided in Appendix I to this report.
OPENING OF THE SESSION (Agenda Item 1)
2. The session was opened by Mr. Thomas J. Billy, Administrator, Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture, who welcomed participants on behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Dan Glickman.
3. The Committee was addressed by Dr. Robert L. Buchanan, Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, on the subject of Microbiological Risk Assessment, which included an example of quantitative microbiological risk assessment.
ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA3 (Agenda Item 2)
4. The Committee adopted the Provisional Agenda as the Agenda for the session, agreeing to rearrange the order of several items.
REPORT BY THE SECRETARIAT ON MATTERS REFERRED TO THE COMMITTEE4 (Agenda Item 3)
A) General Matters
5. The Committee noted the on-going activities of FAO and WHO in providing expert scientific advice to governments and to the Codex Alimentarius Commission in areas relevant to the work of the Committee, specifically in biotechnology and food safety, the application of risk management to food safety, and on animal feeding and food safety.
6. The Committee further noted that the Executive Committee had advanced a number of texts to Step 5 at its previous session, noting that technical government comments on these texts would be taken into account at the Committee's present session. Furthermore, the Executive Committee had noted the Committee's initiative to consider consumer responsibilities in relation to food safety, in particular in regard to the application of HACCP principles. These matters are discussed under Items 4, 5, 7 and 13b of the present Agenda.
7. The Committee noted the work being undertaken by the Committee on General Principles in finalizing the Terms and Definitions used in Risk Analysis and in considering the status of Codex Guidelines, Codes of Practice and other advisory texts within the context of the SPS and TBT Agreements.
B) Endorsement of Food Hygiene Provisions in Codex Standards
Codex Regional Coordinating Committee for Asia
8. The Committee endorsed the Hygiene Provisions contained in the following standards, as presented in Appendix I to CX/FH 96/2:
Proposed Draft Standard for Canned Bamboo Shoots
Proposed Draft Standard for Dried Salted Anchovies
Proposed Draft Standard for Crackers made from Marine and Freshwater Fish, Crustacean and Molluscan Shellfish.
3 CX/FH 96/1
4 CX/FH 96/2
9. The Committee did not endorse the proposal to include a microbiological test (incubation test) in the Standard for Canned Bamboo Shoots on the basis that using such a test would not provide any greater health protection than would adherence to the Code of Hygienic Practice for Low-Acid and Acidified Low-Acid Canned Foods (CAC/RCP 23-1979, Rev.2 1993) already referenced in the document. Should spoilage occur, reference could also be made to the Guideline Procedures to Establish Microbiological Causes of Spoilage in Low-Acid and Acidified Low-Acid Canned Foods, which was an Appendix to the above-mentioned Code.
Codex Committee on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
10. The Committee endorsed the use of the standard wording for the Food Hygiene Provisions in the Draft and Proposed Draft Standards for Banana, Mangosteen, Limes, Pummelos, Guavas and Chayotes.
Codex Committee on Fish and Fishery Products
11. The Committee considered that a technical paper should be prepared on the residual level of chlorine in products such as frozen shrimps and prawns when washed with chlorinated water and on recommended levels used in processing. It requested that such a paper be developed by the CCFFP.
Codex Committee on Milk and Milk Products
12. The Committee noted that the CCMMP had forwarded common hygiene provisions in standards for seven milk products for endorsement, and had asked for the Committee's consideration of two proposals in addition to the common provisions5. On the first proposal, to include microbiological criteria to the Revised Standard for Butter, the Committee agreed that such criteria did not provide health protection additional to that which would be achieved by the implementation of the General Principles of Food Hygiene, including the application of a HACCP plan to the product. It decided that the inclusion of such criteria would be inappropriate.
13. On the second proposal to modify the common hygiene provisions in these standards by including a specific reference to the use of pasteurization or an equivalent measure6, the Committee could not arrive at a consensus. Several delegations strongly resisted the specific reference to pasteurization, stating that the application of the revised General Principles of Food Hygiene and the Principles and Guidelines for the Application of the HACCP System negated the need to specify any one processing step as being necessary for health protection. Other delegations strongly supported the proposed inclusion stating that pasteurization provided a well-recognized level of protection against which other measures could be assessed.
14. There was discussion as to the meaning of the words “equivalent measure” to pasteurization and some delegations expressed the need for greater clarifications before coming to a decision on this point. Several Delegations emphasized the need to finalize the revisions of the milk and milk products standards, now at Step 8, because in their view they were not directly linked to the issue of pasteurization. However, the delegations disagreed. The Committee forwarded the common hygiene provisions to the CAC without making any additions to them.
15. The Delegation of the United States reserved its position in regard to the Committee's decision. In this reservation, the Delegation stated that the public health protection benefits that pasteurization provides had been scientifically established, internationally recognized, and were irrefutable. There were current alternative processes or technologies which might, under certain conditions, provide equivalent public health protection to pasteurization and more could be expected to evolve. The purpose of the Codex Alimentarius International Food Standards was to “protect consumers”, while facilitating trade. The Delegation urged that the endorsement of standards for international trade in dairy products which did not provide the public health protection benefits of pasteurization or an equivalent process, be weighed carefully to assure that an appropriate balance between “protecting consumers” and “facilitating international trade”, consistent with scientific principles, was provided. The Delegation of France reserved its position in regard to the decision of the Committee not to endorse the common hygiene provisions, being of the opinion that these provisions provided adequate health protection without any additional wording required, making reference as they did to the General Principles of Food Hygiene and related texts.
5 ALINORM 97/11, paragraphs 22–23, and 27–28.
6 The exact wording of the proposal was: Pasteurization, or an equivalent measure approved by the official agency having jurisdiction, shall be used in order to achieve the appropriate level of public health protection.
CONSIDERATION OF THE DRAFT REVISED GUIDELINES FOR THE APPLICATION OF THE HACCP SYSTEM AT STEP 77 (Agenda Item 4)
16. The 43rd Session of the Executive Committee had adopted the Draft Revised Guidelines at Step 5. Comments were subsequently requested by CL 1996/24-FH. An ad hoc Working Group was convened under the direction of the United States to review the Guidelines in light of the received comments, with the understanding that substantial modifications at this stage would be kept to a minimum and that prescriptive expressions would be avoided in the text to the greatest extent possible.
17. In general, several delegations expressed their concern that difficulties might be encountered in applying the HACCP system in smaller businesses and in developing countries. It was pointed out that the flexibility should be guaranteed in its application to primary production, whose situation may differ significantly from one country to another. The Committee noted that the Guidelines should be considered as providing an example of risk-based approaches to be employed in adhering to the Revised International Code of Practice - General Principles of Food Hygiene. The Committee also noted that FAO and WHO had been providing training opportunities to those countries in need and assistance should be continued to facilitate the application of the HACCP system in developing countries.
18. The Committee agreed to the revised text as presented by the Working Group with a number of modifications, mainly directed to addressing the question of flexibility and application to small businesses and developing countries.
Status of the Draft Revised Guidelines for the Application of the HACCP System
19. The Committee advanced the Draft Revised Guidelines for the Application of the HACCP System to Step 8 for the consideration of the 22nd Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission as an integral part of the Revised General Principles of Food Hygiene. The Draft Revised Guidelines are attached to this report as Appendix II.
CONSIDERATION OF DRAFT REVISED PRINCIPLES FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT AND APPLICATION OF MICROBIOLOGICAL CRITERIA FOR FOODS AT STEP 7 (Agenda Item 5)8
20. The Committee reviewed the revised draft of the text prepared by a Working Group which had met under the Chairmanship of France. The revised draft had taken into account the comments submitted in writing prior to the session. The Committee accepted a large number of editorial changes proposed by the Working Group.
Definition of Microbiological Criterion
21. The Committee agreed that microbiological criteria could be used to determine that processes were consistent with the General Principles of Food Hygiene, but that this need not be referred to explicitly in the definition. An appropriate statement was included in the section dealing with the Purposes and Application of Microbiological Criteria. It was noted that throughout the text reference to “design requirements” was a direct reference to the corresponding provisions of the General Principles of Food Hygiene.
Application by Regulatory Authorities
22. The Committee agreed that criteria could be used both to define and to check compliance with regulatory provisions concerning hygiene. It further agreed that the use of microbiological criteria should be limited to situations where no more effective tools were available and where their use would improve the degree of protection offered to the consumer. The Committee agreed to provide more complete detail on approaches to be taken in cases where food was found not to be in compliance with microbiological criteria.
23. The Committee noted that a reference to the use of the microbiological criteria within the context of Codex standards or national regulations had been deleted as the principles enunciated in this paragraph were common to all Codex texts.
Application by a Food Business Operator
7 ALINORM 97/13, Annex to Appendix II; CX/FH 96/3 comments by Denmark, New Zealand, Republic of South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, FAO and International Dairy Federation.
8 ALINORM 97/13, Appendix III; CL 1996/24-FH; CX/FH 96/4 (Comments of The Netherlands, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States).
24. The Committee clarified that microbiological criteria should be specific for the product and for the specific stage in the food chain during the preparation and/or processing of the product to which they should apply.
Microbiological Aspects of Criteria
25. The Committee discussed at length the case of “presence-absence” tests and their relevance as indicators of public health. It confirmed that the finding of certain pathogenic organisms in such tests did not necessarily indicate a threat to public health. Because the same consideration applied to toxins, the Committee expanded the list of examples by making reference to S. aureus.
Sampling Plans, Methods and Handling
26. The Committee decided to provide a more detailed description of the ability of sampling plans to detect organisms in a given food lot, and at the same time confirmed that sampling plans on their own could not ensure the absence of any of the specified organisms.
Status of the Principles for the Establishment and Application of Microbiological Criteria for Foods
27. The Committee advanced the Draft Principles as attached in Appendix III to Step 8 for submission to the 22nd Session of the CAC.
CONSIDERATION OF APPROACHES FOR THE REVISION OF COMMODITY CODES9 (Agenda Item 6)
28. At its previous session, the Committee had considered the nature of commodity-specific codes of hygienic practice which would need to be developed or revised as a result of the adoption of the Revised General Principles of Food Hygiene10. Of the alternatives considered, preferences was given to an approach by which commodity-specific codes would contain guidance on food hygiene measures over and above the general guidance contained in the General Principles of Food Hygiene.
29. The Committee welcomed the opportunity to establish consistency in the revision of the commodity-specific codes and to base these revisions on the newly revised General Principles of Food Hygiene, including the Annex on HACCP, and the revised Principles for the Establishment and Application of Microbiological Criteria for Foods. However, the Committee noted that exclusive stress on food safety could limit the usefulness of Codex Codes of Hygienic Practice and that some flexibility had to be retained to provide guidance on certain non-safety factors such as decomposition or handling practices which could lead to spoilage. The Committee noted that the CCFFP had already begun the revision of the Codes of Practice within its mandate with this in mind. However, the Committee was of the opinion that the establishment of additional food hygiene requirements for specific food items or food groups should be limited to the extent necessary to meet the defined objectives of individual codes.
30. The Committee endorsed the following recommendations, referring them to the CCGP for information and submitting them to the CAC for adoption and inclusion in Section H of the Procedural Manual:
Codex Codex of Hygienic Practice should serve the primary purpose of providing advice to governments on the application of food hygiene provisions within the framework of national and international requirements.
The Revised Recommended International Code of Practice - General Principles of Food Hygiene (including the Guidelines for the Application of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) System) and the Revised Principles for the Establishment and Application of Microbiological Criteria for Foods are the base documents in the field of food hygiene.
All Codex Codes of Hygienic Practice applicable to specific food items or food groups shall refer to the General Principles of Food Hygiene and shall only contain material additional to the General Principles which is necessary to take into account the particular requirements of the specific food item or food group.
Provisions in Codex Codes of Hygienic Practice should be drafted in a sufficiently clear and transparent manner such that extended explanatory material is not required for their interpretation.
The above considerations should also apply to Codex Codes of Practice which contain provisions relating to food hygiene.
9 CX/FH 96/5
10 ALINORM 97/13, paragraphs 19–25.
31. The Committee also agreed that consideration should be given to revision of the standard texts on food hygiene provisions recommended for use in commodity standards (contained in the Procedural Manual, Section K) as the existing texts had been developed well before the current revision of the General Principles of Food Hygiene or the development of HACCP and related principles.
CONSIDERATION OF DRAFT CODE OF HYGIENIC PRACTICE FOR REFRIGERATED PACKAGED FOODS WITH EXTENDED SHELF-LIFE AT STEP 711 (Agenda Item 7)
32. The Delegation of Canada informed the Committee that an ad hoc Working Group which met under its chairmanship had not yet reached any consensus over a few issues such as refrigeration temperature, necessity for additional hurdles and the delineation of the Scope. The Committee felt that it was premature to conclude the Committee's discussion on this document at this stage.
33. The Committee agreed that the document should be revised to incorporate the comments received, particularly by making due reference to and avoiding replication with the General Principles of Food Hygiene.
Status of the Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Refrigerated Packaged Foods With Extended Shelf- Life
34. The Committee agreed that the document would be revised by the government of Canada, with assistance provided by France, the United Kingdom and the United States, with potentially controversial parts high-lighted, and be circulated for comments by government at Step 6.
GUIDELINES ON THE APPLICATION OF PRINCIPLES OF RISK ASSESSMENT AND RISK MANAGEMENT TO FOOD HYGIENE INCLUDING STRATEGIES FOR THEIR APPLICATION12 (Agenda Item 8)
35. The Committee recalled that the 21st Session of the CAC had requested its major subsidiary bodies dealing with risk analysis to consider guidelines for the application of risk assessment and risk management in their areas of competence13. The Committee had held a preliminary discussion on this subject at its previous session and had requested that a paper be prepared for discussion at its present session14.
36. In reviewing the document, the Committee decided that the statements on principles and application should be brought together, that the explanatory notes in the document be retained for the time being as notes at the end of the paper so as to allow for easier reading, and that the introduction should be made more concise and relevant to the objectives of the paper.
37. The Committee also agreed to clarify the Title of the document by referring to the conduct of risk assessments, and to simplify the Introduction and Scope of the document. It was pointed out that the Guidelines were intended to be used by governments, scientists and other interested parties in the preparation and presentation of scientific evaluations to risk managers and decision-making bodies such as the CAC in order to ensure that such assessments met the needs of decision-makers. It was agreed that the document should focus on microbiological hazards in all foods regardless of their origin. However, it was recognized that adequate flexibility should be provided where appropriate to meet any special needs of developing countries. The Committee made some technical amendments to the text.
38. The Committee also noted that the document contained a number of proposals for future discussion by the Committee. The Committee decided to circulate these proposals separately with a view to more complete discussion at its next session in the light of government comments.
11 ALINORM 97/13 Appendix IV; CX/FH 96/6
12 CX/FH 96/10
13 ALINORM 95/37, paragraphs 27–30
14 ALINORM 97/13, paragraphs 51–58.
Status of the Principles and Guidelines for the Conduct of MICROBIOLOGICAL Risk Assessment
39. The Committee advanced the document to Step 3 of the Procedure. The Proposed Draft Principles and Guidelines are attached to the present report as Appendix IV.
PROPOSED DRAFT CODE OF HYGIENIC PRACTICE FOR UNCURED/UNRIPENED CHEESE AND RIPENED SOFT CHEESE AT STEP 415 (Agenda Item 9)
40. The Committee recalled that this matter had last been discussed in detail at its 27th Session (1994) when the CCMMP had been requested to provide technical review and comments on the code, including an annexed Code of Hygienic Practice for Soft Cheese made with Raw Milk. At the Committee's 28th Session (1995) it was agreed that comments would be requested on proposed guidelines for the production of cheeses from unpasteurized (raw) milk16. These proposals had also been reviewed by the CCMMP with input from the International Dairy Federation (IDF).
41. The Committee noted that the IDF had proposed Draft Guidelines for the Production and Transport of Raw Milk, for the Purpose of the Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Uncured/Unripened Cheese and Ripened Soft Cheese17. The CCMMP had recommended that these guidelines be applied to all milk products. Nothing the serious concerns of the Delegations of India, Kenya, Egypt and Ghana concerning the implications of such a recommendation, the need to take into account the various production systems in different countries and for different much animals, and the fact that such recommendations should be in the form of guidelines elaborated in full conformity with the Codex Procedures and with the participation of all Member couuntries, the Committee concluded that it would not be appropriate to accept the recommendation of the CCMMP in this regard. The Committee agreed, however, to consider the possibility of elaborating a Code of Hygienic Practice for Milk and Milk Products which would meet food safety needs and provide sufficient flexibility for application in all Member countries.
42. In reference to the Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Uncured/Unripened Cheese and Ripened Soft Cheese itself, the Committee agreed that it should be redrafted, taking into account all comments received since the 27th Session in 1994, the comments transmitted by the CCMMP, and the general guidance developed under Item 6 of the present Agenda. Support was expressed for the inclusion of the relevant provisions concerning the production, collection and transport of raw milk in the main text of the Code, using the IDF proposals to the CCMMP as a reference. The observer from the European Community spoke firmly in favour of including raw milk cheeses in the Code with specific provisions attached.
Status of the Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Uncured/unripened Cheese and Ripened Soft Cheese
43. It requested the Delegation of the United States, assisted by France and IDF, to redraft the present text as indicated above and to arrange for its circulation for Government comments at Step 3.
PROPOSED DRAFT CODE OF PRACTICE FOR ALL FOODSTUFFS TRANSPORTED IN BULK18 (Agenda Item 10)
44. The elaboration of this Code had been originally assigned to the CCFAC. The Executive Committee subsequently recommended that this Committee should initiate the work and cooperate with the CCFAC and other interested Committees19. At its previous session, the Committee had asked the Delegation of the Netherlands to prepare a draft document, in cooperation with Canada and other countries.20
45. The Delegation of Canada introduced the draft that still was at its preparatory stage and asked for general comments and guidance from the delegations in order to proceed with its further elaboration.
15 ALINORM 95/13, Appendix V; CX/FH 96/7 (Comments of the CCMMP, incorporating comments from Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, USA, European Association of Animal Production, International Dairy Federation).
16 ALINORM 97/13, paragraphs 40–45.
17 CX/FH 96/7, Annex 2.
18 CX/FH 96/8
19 ALINORM 93/13 Paragraphs 103; ALINORM 95/4 Appendix
20 ALINORM 97/13, paragraphs 61–64
46. The Committee recalled that the Code was intended to address hygienic concerns related to the transport of foodstuffs in bulk and agreed to modify the title accordingly. The Committee also agreed that live animals should not be included in the scope of the document, as such provisions might need to reflect epizootic and animal welfare considerations and were within the mandate of the OIE.
47. Some delegations stated that the Code should not include semi-packed foodstuffs in the scope of the document and that defining the term would not be necessary but the Committee made no decision in this matter. It was also recognized that the format of the General Principles of Food Hygiene, the decision of the Committee in Item 6 (above) and the linkage to the existing Code of Practice for the Storage and Transport of Edible Fats and Oils in Bulk should be taken into account when redrafting the text along with consideration of including positive and negative lists of previous cargoes.
48. With regard to the possible inclusion of generic HACCP plans in the document, many delegations were of a view that no such plan could be applicable to the wide variety of foodstuffs and the different situations in which they were transported and that it would be inappropriate to include generic HACCP plans in the document even as examples.
Status of The Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for The Transport Of Foods in Bulk
49. The Committee agreed that the document should be redrafted by the drafting group lead by the Netherlands and circulated at Step 3. It was agreed that Germany would be a member of the drafting group in addition to the members appointed at the Committee's previous Session.
CONSIDERATION OF ESTABLISHMENT OF SAMPLING PLANS FOR MICROBIOLOGICAL SAFETY CRITERIA FOR FOODS IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE21 (Agenda Item 11)
50. The representative of ICMSF introduced the document which had been revised at the request of the Committee at its 28th Session, with contributions provided by the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Denmark. The revised document had been expanded to include recommendations on control of certain pathogens, viz. Salmonella with special reference to S.enteritidis, Campylobacter and entero-haemorrhagic Escherichia coli, in addition to Listeria monocytogenes. The scientific rationale for the determination of the microbiological criteria for L.monocytogenes was provided in the annex to the document. The Committee expressed its appreciation to the ICMSF for this highly interesting document.
51. The Committee noted that the document opened up the prospect of a new type of Codex recommendation in the area of food hygiene, namely recommendations on the control of specific organisms in food; such recommendations to be based on the results of comprehensive risk assessment and to include advice which could include as necessary sampling plans and microbiological criteria developed in accordance with the newly revised Principles for the Establishment and Application of Microbiological Criteria for Foods. It agreed to inform the Executive Committee and the CAC of its wish to undertake work in this field.
52. The Committee examined the ICMSF's recommendations and agreed that the text on Listeria monocytogenes should be elaborated separately from the rest of the document, although a reservation was expressed as to the appropriateness of the microbiological criteria for L.monocytogenes proposed in the document (<100/g). The Committee agreed to ask the governments of Germany, with assistance from Denmark and the United States, to finalize the Section of the document on L.monocytogenes by February 1997 and to circulate it, under an appropriate title, for comments by governments at Step 3. This document would provide a model format to be followed by future documents to be elaborated to address the other pathogens mentioned in the ICMSF's paper. Possible work on these other pathogens (Campylobater, Salmonella enteritidis and enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli) would be considered at the next session of the Committee. The Committee noted the importance of taking into account different situations of countries when developing the texts for other specific pathogens in the future.
53. The Committee stressed that there was an increasing demand for the CCFH to receive scientific advice in the form of formal microbiological risk assessments, similar to the evaluations being carried out by the JECFA and the JMPR in their respective fields. The Committee hence agreed to invite the Commission to advise FAO and WHO to consider the establishment of an international advisory body addressing the microbiological aspects of food safety.
21 CX/FH 96/9; CX/FH 96/9-ANNEX
PROPOSED DRAFT CODE OF HYGIENIC PRACTICE FOR BOTTLED WATER (OTHER THAN MINERAL WATER)22 (Agenda Item 12)
54. The Committee was informed that members of the Working Group established to develop this text had met during the period of the Fifth Session of the Codex Committee on Natural Mineral Waters, Thun (Switzerland), October 1996. The Working Group had considered the proposed draft code and the comments received, and had made a number of amendments based on these comments. The leader of the Working Group requested the Committee's advice on certain key issues which needed be resolved in order for the Code to be developed further.
55. On the issue of whether to refer to “Bottled Water” or “Packaged Water”, the Committee agreed to refer to both terms in the Title and Definition, but to refer simply to “Bottled Water” in the body of the Code for the sake of clarity and ease of reading.
56. The Committee debated the use of the term “Source water (supply water)” and the corresponding terms in French (“eau brute”) and Spanish (“agua de origin”). As these terms had different nuances in the different languages and were difficult to translate into equivalent terms in other languages, it was proposed that it may not be necessary to define the expression, but instead to explain the meaning and use of the words in the appropriate context whenever they occurred. The Committee could not arrive at a conclusion on this matter. It was recommended that a clear distinction needed to be established between relatively-safe protected underground waters and other sources of water.
57. In relation to the provisions concerning treatment, it was agreed that the need for treatment should be determined on the basis of an appropriate risk analysis. Certain delegations drew attentions of the Committee to the weaknesses of bacterial testing as an appropriate indicator for the presence of viruses and/or protozoa, whereas other delegations made reference to work which, in the case of naturally protected waters, established a link between these organisms and the presence of indicator bacteria. Reference was also made to the need to consider chemical contamination from elements such as fluorine, bromine and radon.
58. The Committee noted the proposals to include a separate section on labelling, especially in relation to claims directed toward special population groups, including the immuno-compromised. Consumers International expressed its strongly held view that information needed for consumers to make an informed safe choice of bottled water be provided on the label. The Committee agreed that labelling issues should be excluded from the Code unless they were immediately directed towards hygiene, and that the provisions of the General Standard for the Labelling of Pre-packaged Foods and related documents provided adequate guidance on labelling and claims.
Status of the Code of Hygienic Practice for Bottled Water (other than Natural Mineral Waters)
59. The Committee agreed to return the draft to Step 2 for redrafting. It was agreed that Belgium would be a member of the drafting group in addition to the members appointed at the Committee's previous Session.
60. It was suggested that the drafting of the present Code might indicate the future need for a revision of the Code of Hygienic Practice for the Collection, Processing and Marketing of Natural Mineral Waters (CAC/RCP 33–1985).
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE BROADER APPLICATION OF THE HACCP SYSTEM23 (Agenda Item 13(a))
61. The Delegation of Australia introduced the document it had prepared. In view of the comments received, many delegations felt that it was necessary to modify the title and scope of the document in order to better reflect the intended purpose of the document, which would be to provide guidance to governments in their efforts to implement the HACCP system.
62. Several delegations proposed to postpone the work under this Agenda Item for two years and wait until more experience had been obtained from different countries (especially from developing countries) and a better understanding would be available as to the format the document should follow. Other delegations were of the view that the current work should be continued in view of the immediate usefulness of providing governments with guidance on implementation of the HACCP system, regardless of the form in which the finalized document should be published. The Committee also noted a view of some delegations that this kind of work could more appropriately be addressed by CCFICS, since the issue of equivalence was involved.
22 CX/FH 96/13; CX/FH 96/13 - Add.1 (Comments of Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Malaysia, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Consumers International).
23 CX/FH 96/11; CX/FH 96/11 Add.1 comments by Argentina, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, Consumer International and World Health Organization.
63. The Committee agreed that a Circular Letter be prepared to invite governments to communicate their experience of implementing the HACCP system by sending a status report to Australia, which would prepare a redrafted document for presentation at the next session of the Committee. Delegations stressed the importance of training in the application of HACCP to the regulatory and the business sectors particularly in developing countries and called upon FAO and WHO to strengthen their efforts in this regard.
CONSUMER EDUCATION IN THE APPLICATION OF HACCP24 (Agenda Item 13(b))
64. The Executive Committee, at its previous session, had invited the United States to prepare a discussion paper including an outline of guidance to be provided as to consumer education. During its drafting process, it was recognized that the application of the HACCP system in households would involve certain difficulties in terms of basic infrastructure available, that the nature of such guidance would need to be culture-specific, and that the direct application of the HACCP system might not be the only solution to achieve food safety at consumer level.
65. While recognizing the relevance of the HACCP concept applicable throughout the food chain and the usefulness of incorporating core elements of the HACCP system into training programmes of local health workers and teachers, the Committee decided to discontinue the work on this matter, with the understanding that FAO, WHO and other relevant organizations should further develop materials for consumer education adapted to the need of different target groups and local situations.
OTHER BUSINESS AND FUTURE WORK (Agenda Item 14)
66. The Committee decided to initiate work on the following matters, subject to confirmation by the CAC, was necessary:
Code of Hygienic Practice for Milk and Milk Products, a discussion paper and outline to be prepared by the Delegation of the United States assisted by India, France and the IDF.
Guidance on the hygienic recycling of processing water in food processing plants. The Committee noted that recycling of processing water was becoming more common in view of the necessity to conserve energy and water resources, but that there were significant food hygiene implications. A discussion paper is to be developed by the United States.
Broader issues on the application of microbiological risk evaluation to international trade, especially taking into account trade in foods and animal feed between countries of differing microbiological status. A discussion paper which would consider the issue in light of countries' rights and obligations under the SPS Agreement and should take into account the outcome of the FAO Expert Consultation on Animal Feeding and Food Safety scheduled for early 1997 is to be prepared by Norway, with assistance from Sweden, Denmark and France).
Revision of the standard wording for use by Codex Committees in relation to Food Hygiene Provisions currently contained in the Procedural Manual (Section K) to take into account revisions to the General Principles of Food Hygiene and the use of risk-based control systems (Codex Secretariat).
Development of a discussion paper on risk-based guidance for the use of HACCP-like systems in small businesses, with special reference to developing countries (Netherlands).
Recommendations for the management of microbiological hazards for foods in international trade (ICMSF).
67. The Committee noted that, in addition to the above, its Future Work would consist of the following items:
Code of Hygienic Practice for Refrigerated Packaged Foods with Extended Shelf-Life at Step 7
Principles and Guidelines for the Conduct of Microbiological Risk Assessment at Step 4
Recommendations for the Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Foods (Step 2/3)
Code of Hygienic Practice for Uncured/Unripened Cheese and Ripened Soft Cheese (Step 2/3)
Code of Hygienic Practice for the Transport of Foods in Bulk (Step 2/3)
Code of Hygienic Practice for Bottled Waters (other than Mineral Water) (Step 2/3)
Consideration of a technical paper (to be prepared by CCFFP) on residual chlorine in frozen shrimps and prawns
24 No document was made available for this agenda item.
68. In response to a question from the Delegation of Canada, the Secretariat indicated that the publication of the Pictorial Manual on Can Defects, adopted by the Commission in 1993, had been delayed for technical and financial reasons. However, efforts were being made to determine how the manual could be published, possibly in relation to the second edition of the Codex Alimentarius on CD-ROM.
DATE AND PLACE OF THE NEXT SESSION (Agenda Item 15)
69. The Committee was advised that its 30th session was scheduled to be held in Washington D.C., from 20 - 24 October 1997, subject to confirmation by the CAC.
SUMMARY STATUS OF WORK
|Subject Matter||Step||Action by:||Document|
|Draft Revised International Code of Hygienic Practice - General Principles of Food Hygiene||8||22nd CAC||ALINORM 97/13|
|Draft Revised Guidelines for the Application of the HACCP System||8||22nd CAC||ALINORM 97/13A|
|Draft Revised Principles for the Application of Microbiological Criteria for Foods||8||22nd CAC||ALINORM 97/13A|
|Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Refrigerated Packaged Foods with Extended Shelf Life||6||Canada, France, UK, USA|
|Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Uncured/Unripened Cheese and Ripened Soft Cheese||3||USA, France, IDF|
|Proposed Draft Principles and Guidelines for the Conduct of Microbiological Risk Assessment||3||Governments|
|Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for the Transport of Foods in Bulk||3||The Netherlands, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Africa, USA, Germany|
|ALINORM 97/13A |
|Recommendations on the control of Listeria monocytogenes in foods in international trade||3||Germany Governments|
|ALINORM 97/13A |
|Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Bottled Waters (Other than Mineral Water)||2||USA, France, Indonesia, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium|
|ALINORM 97/13A |
|Implication of the Broader Application of the HACCP System||2||Australia|
|Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Milk and Milk Products||1||22nd CAC USA, India, France, IDF|
|ALINORM 97/13A |
|Hygienic recycling of processing water in food processing plants||1||USA|
|Application of microbiological risk evaluation in international trade||1||Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France||ALINORM 97/13A|
|Revision of the standard wording for Food Hygiene Provisions (Procedural Manual)||1||Secretariat|
|Use of HACCP-like systems in small businesses||1||Netherlands|
|Management of microbiological hazards for foods in international trade||1||ICMSF|