Purpose of the Codex Alimentarius
1. The Codex Alimentarius is a collection of internationally adopted food standards presented in a uniform manner. These food standards aim at protecting consumers' health and ensuring fair practices in the food trade. Their publication is intended to guide and promote the elaboration and establishment of definitions and requirements for foods, to assist in their harmonization and in so doing to facilitate international trade.
Scope of the Codex Alimentarius
2. The Codex Alimentarius is to include standards for all the principal foods, whether processed, semi-processed or raw, for distribution to the consumer. Materials for further processing into foods should be included to the extent necessary to achieve the purposes of the Codex Alimentarius as defined. The Codex Alimentarius is to include provisions in respect of food hygiene, food additives, pesticide residues, contaminants, labelling and presentation, methods of analysis and sampling.
Nature of Codex Standards
3. Codex Standards contain requirements for food aimed at ensuring for the consumer a sound, wholesome food product free from adulteration, correctly labelled and presented. In particular a Codex Standard for a given food product lays down the special requirements for that product, it being understood that the general provisions contained in the Codex Alimentarius shall apply except to the extent otherwise expressly provided for in a specific standard.
A Codex Standard should, therefore, for any food or foods:
incorporate by reference the applicable hygiene, labelling, methods of analysis and other general provisions adopted by the Commission, and
specify in whole or in part the following criteria, as appropriate:
Product designation, definition and composition
These should describe and define the food (including its scientific name when necessary) and cover compositional requirements which may include quality criteria.
These should include such factors as specific sanitary and other protective measures and safeguards to assure a sound, wholesome, and marketable product.
Weight and measure requirements
such as fill of container, weight, measure or count of units based on an appropriate method or criterium.
These should include specific requirements for labelling and presentation.
Sampling, testing and analytical methods
These should cover specific sampling, testing and analytical procedures.
Acceptance of Codex Standards
4. A Codex Standard so defined may be accepted by a country - in respect of trade and distribution of the food within its territory - in its entirety, or accepted with a declaration of more stringent requirements, or accepted as a target which will be put into effect after a stated number of years. Acceptance in its entirety or target acceptance would imply an undertaking by the importing country not to hinder within its territorial jurisdiction the distribution of food which conforms to the standard by any legal provisions relating to the health of the consumer or to other food standard matters.