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The Codex Alimentarius Commission implements the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, the purpose of which is to protect the health of consumers and to ensure fair practices in the food trade. The Codex Alimentarius (Latin, meaning Food Law or Code) is a collection of internationally adopted food standards presented in a uniform manner. It also includes provisions of an advisory nature in the form of codes of practice, guidelines and other recommended measures to assist in achieving the purposes of the Codex Alimentarius. The Commission has expressed the view that codes of practice might provide useful checklists of requirements for national food control or enforcement authorities. The publication of the Codex Alimentarius is intended to guide and promote the elaboration and establishment of definitions and requirements for foods, to assist in their harmonization and, in doing so, to facilitate international trade.


Food labelling is the primary means of communication between the producer and seller of food on one hand, and the purchaser and consumer of the other. The Codex Alimentarius standards and guidelines on food labelling published in various volumes of the Codex Alimentarius are collected and published in a separate publication. In addition to the general recommendations, the Codex Committee on Food Labelling also provides guidance for certain claims commonly found in the market in order to provide clear information to the consumer.

The Codex Committee on Food Labelling developed the Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods in view of the growing production and international trade in organically produced foods with a view to facilitating trade and preventing misleading claims. The Guidelines are intended to facilitate the harmonization of requirements for organic products at the international level, and may also provide assistance to governments wishing to establish national regulations in this area.

The Guidelines include general sections describing the organic production concept and the scope of the text; description and definitions; labelling and claims (including products in transition/conversion); rules of production and preparation, including criteria for the substances allowed in organic production; inspection and certification systems; and import control.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission at its 23 rd Session in 1999 adopted the Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods, with the exception of the provisions for livestock and livestock products.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission at its 24 th Session in 2001 adopted the sections concerning livestock and livestock products and bee-keeping and bee products for inclusion in the Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods.

The publication of the Guidelines in this compact format is to allow their wide use and understanding by governments, regulatory authorities, food industries and retailers, and consumers.

Further information on these texts, or any other aspect of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, may be obtained from:

The Secretary,
Codex Alimentarius Commission,
Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme,
FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla,
00100, Rome Italy

fax: +39(06)

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