14. The Chairman of the Codex Committee on General Principles, Mr. R. Souverain (France), explained briefly to the Commission the recommendations of the Codex Committee on General Principles concerning the revised provisions for the Acceptance of Codex Standards to be included in the General Principles of the Codex Alimentarius. The Committee on General Principles had agreed that the princípal objective should be to secure that Codex standards should be accepted by as many governments as possible in accordance with the provisions of full acceptance. In considering the implications of full acceptance, the Committee had agreed that it was necessary that a country accepting a Codex standard in this way would have to undertake to apply this standard to domestic production intended for sale within its territorial jurisdiction, as well as to imports in order to avoid any discrimination against imported products. It had been recognized, however, that there might be various reasons which would make it difficult for a government to accept a standard in accordance with the requirements of the full acceptance method. The Committee therefore had considered that it would be necessary to provide for other methods of acceptance, which, while falling short of the ideal of full acceptance, would, nevertheless, afford governments the means of accepting standards in ways applicable to their particular circumstances and which would still go a considerable way to the achievement of the objectives of the Codex Alimentarius. The Committee also considered that, in this way, it would be possible to achieve a wider measure of agreement at the international level and acceptance of Codex standards among Members of the Commission. In accordance with this approach, the Committee had further considered it desirable to provide for a fourth method of acceptance, namely, “partial acceptance”. This method of acceptance had been agreed upon by the Committee to cover cases where the circumstances peculiar to a country might require it to permit less stringent provisions for some parts of a Codex standard.
15. The Commission examined recommendations of the Codex Committee on General Principles in respect of paragraph 4 of the General Principles of the Codex Alimentarius. After discussing the meaning of full acceptance of a Codex standard, the Commission adopted the text as recommended without amendment. The delegations of the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan and Switzerland stated that at this time they would have to make reservations concerning the proposed meaning of full acceptance pending further consideration of the text by their appropriate national authorities.
16. The Commission understood that the Codex Committee on General Principles had considered it necessary to make provision under full acceptance for a country accepting a Codex standard to bar the entry of a product complying with the standard, in the event of certain circumstances arising which might involve considerations of human, plant or animal health, which were not specifically dealt with in the standard, for instance the need to guard against the introduction of disease affecting livestock or humans.
17. The Commission examined the text of acceptance with a declaration of more stringent or supplementary requirements and adopted it without amendment. The delegations of Cuba, Malta and Spain expressed their reservations to the inclusion of this method of acceptance in the General Principles because, in their opinion, this method of acceptance could be used by countries to prevent the importation of products complying with Codex standards. The delegations of Cuba and Spain further stated that if Codex standards fulfilled the purposes of the Codex Alimentarius then there should be no necessity for more stringent requirements.
18. The Commission examined and adopted the provision for target acceptance. It was noted that this provision would be of value to both developed and developing countries.
19. The Commissions considered that the terms of the fourth method of acceptance, “partial acceptance”, as proposed by the Codex Committee on General Principles, required some redrafting in order to express more precisely the purpose of this method of acceptance. While the object of this method of acceptance was to cover cases where the circumstances peculiar to a country might require it to permit less stringent or different provisions for some parts of a Codex standard, the Commission considered that it would be necessary to make it clear that such less stringent or different requirements should be confined to relatively minor matters in order to qualify as a form of “acceptance”. Accordingly, the following revised text, drawn up by the three Vice-Chairmen of the Commission, was placed before the Commission for consideration:
“Acceptance with Minor Deviations
Acceptance with minor deviations means that the country concerned gives full acceptance to the standard concerned with the exception of minor deviations which are accepted as such by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and which are not more stringent or supplementary requirements. The country concerned will include in its acceptance a statement of such deviations, the reasons for them, and also indicate:
whether products fully conforming to the standard may be distributed freely within its territorial jurisdiction in accordance with sub-paragraph A(i) of paragraph 4 of the General Principles of the Codex Alimentarius;
whether it expects to be able to give full acceptance to the standard and, if so, when.”
The Commission noted that the above text introduced a new principle which was not contained in the text of “partial acceptance”, in that it provided that the minor deviations would have to be accepted as such by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The Commission decided not to adopt the fourth method of acceptance at this stage and agreed on the following action to be taken:
Governments should be asked to comment on the text of “acceptance with minor deviations” and in particular whether the new principles which it introduced involved any consequential amendments in the other forms of acceptance, especially in the “acceptance with a declaration of more stringent or supplementary requirements”.
The text of “acceptance with minor deviations”, together with comments thereon, should be put before the next session of the Codex Committee on General Principles for consideration.
20. The delegations of India, Norway and Spain reserved their positions on the subject of acceptance of Codex standards. The delegation of India maintained that the various forms of acceptance were interrelated and must therefore be considered and approved as a whole, and not piecemeal, particularly as the existing text of paragraph 4 of the General Principles of the Codex Alimentarius is intended to be replaced by a new text. In line with this stand, it specifically reserved its position on acceptance with a declaration of more stringent or supplementary requirements since the new principle proposed might on further examination involve consequential amendment to this form of acceptance. The delegation of Norway indicated that as the proposed new text raised important questions which affected the whole of the text on acceptance of Codex standards, it reserved its position pending consideration of the matter by the Norwegian Government. The delegation of Spain reserved its position on “acceptance with minor deviations” and also on “acceptance with a declaration of more stringent or supplementary requirements”.
21. The Commission also decided that in addition to considering “acceptance with minor deviations” together with government comments thereon, the Codex Committee on General Principles should also consider among other matters the following at its next session:
the French proposals for the amendment of the General Principles of the Codex Alimentarius contained in documents ALINORM 68/9(1) and ALINORM 68/9(2);
problems associated with possible withdrawal by a country of acceptance of a Codex standard;
means for ensuring the uniformity of interpretation of eventual acceptances by governments of Codex standards.
22. The Commission examined section B of paragraph 4 and retained its present wording, pointing out that the information which would be obtained from Member Countries would be of value to all countries engaging in international trade in the product concerned.
23. The Commission examined section C of paragraph 4 and adopted sub-section (i) without amendment, and amended sub-section (ii) to read as follows:
“(ii) Where, in an importing country, a product claimed to be in compliance with a Codex standard is found not to be in compliance with that standard, whether in respect of the label accompanying the product or otherwise, the importing country should inform the competent authorities in the exporting country of all the relevant facts and in particular the details of the origin of the product in question (name and address of the exporter), if it is thought that a person in the exporting country is responsible for such non-compliance.”
24. The Commission drew attention to the need to translate the word “sound” in French and Spanish by “en bon état” and “en buen estado” wherever this occured in paragraph 4. The revised text of the whole of paragraph 4 concerning the acceptance of Codex standards, as adopted by the Commission, is contained in Appendix IV to this Report entitled “General Principles of the Codex Alimentarius”.
25. The delegation of Cuba reserved judgment on the subject of “acceptance of Codex standards, including responsibility for their enforcement” and expressed the following views:
“If we examine the ways in which a standard may be accepted, in the light of the purpose of the Codex Alimentarius, it becomes apparent that acceptance with a declaration of more stringent or supplementary requirements goes against the spirit of the Codex. Acceptance by countries of a standard under such a formula could result in product discrimination and restriction of markets. In addition, the introduction of more stringent or supplementary requirements could mean tolerating the transformation of Codex standards into strictly commercial types of standards and, although the importance of such standards to the carrying on of international trade is undeniable, they should be confined to the contract between the parties in a given transaction, but should not be established as additional to, or as presumably more stringent requirements than Codex standards. Recognition of this formula for acceptance constitutes a de facto recognition of different standards, since each country would be able to establish more strict criteria than those appearing in the standards, and this would lead to widespread confusion on the international market. Cuba is opposed to the introduction of this formula because it is discriminatory against the developing countries, which are at a disadvantage compared to the developed countries in the production of foods in compliance with higher requirements than those defined in an internationally accepted standard.”
26. The Commission received a report from Mr. R. Souverain (France), the Chairman of the Codex Committee on General Principles, on the meaning of “quality criteria” in Codex standards. The Commission was informed that the Codex Committee on General Principles had agreed that, for the purposes of the Codex standards, “quality criteria” should be taken to mean only those factors which are essential for the designation, definition or composition of the product concerned. The Codex Committee on General Principles had agreed that quality criteria should be judged on the same basis as all other factors considered for inclusion in a Codex commodity standard. For example, certain quality factors might be as essential and significant as composition factors for individual commodities. The Committee had observed that inclusion of a quality factor in a Codex standard would define a characteristic below which free movement of the commodity involved should be restricted. Such factors could include the quality of the raw material, with the object of protecting the health of the consumer, provisions on taste, odour, colour and texture which could be apprehended by the senses, and basic quality criteria for the finished products, with the object of preventing fraud. The Committee had also agreed that, at this stage in the development of the Codex Alimentarius, grades or quality classes should not be included in Codex standards.
27. The Commission approved this interpretation of the meaning of quality criteria in relation to Codex standards.
28. The Chairman of the Codex Committee on General Principles, Mr. R. Souverain (France), brought to the attention of the Commission that the Codex Committee on General Principles had agreed that in certain circumstances the incidence of non-complying products might be affected by the level of Codex standards and that when the product was still fit for human consumption it should be disposed of in accordance with national procedures. The Committee had taken the view that most national authorities had arrangements to deal with this problem. Most of the difficulties involved in food failing to comply with a Codex standard could probably be dealt with by the distributors as follows:
“an incorrect label can be replaced by a correct one and the product will then conform;
a defective composition can be corrected so that it conforms to the requirements of the Codex standard;
an inexact measure or weight can be rectified by reprocessing a particular lot of merchandise to make it conform to the Codex requirements;
an imported food below the standard can be returned to its country of origin, which can dispose of it in a way which suits it.
Only products which were unfit for human consumption would have to be destroyed.”
29. The Codex Committee on General Principles had concluded that in general the problem of food products fit for human consumption but failing to comply with Codex standards should not fall within the field of activities of the Commission and therefore did not call for any general arrangements to be provided for in the Codex Alimentarius. During the discussion of the above conclusions of the Codex Committee on General Principles, it was pointed out to the Commission that food unfit for human consumption for say aesthetic reasons might not need to be destroyed and that the word “destroy” may therefore be too strong. The Commission was of the opinion that the word “unfit” implied that the food had been rendered unfit for human consumption - as for example, from the hygiene point of view.
30. The Commission agreed with the ideas expressed in paragraph 9, ALINORM 68/9, by the Codex Committee on General Principles in connection with products failing to meet Codex standards.
31. The Commission had before it paragraphs 11 and 12, and Appendix III, of the Report of the Second Session of the Codex Committee on General Principles (ALINORM 68/9). The Commission agreed that the Format served as a guide for the purpose of drawing up Codex standards and that it was not mandatory. It was also understood that not all headings applied to all food standards and that in some cases headings might be omitted or might have to be further subdivided. The Commission, however, agreed that a uniform presentation of food standards was very desirable. The Secretariat was requested to redraft the Introduction to the Format, as proposed by the Codex Committee on General Principles.
32. The Swiss delegation was opposed to the mention in the title of Appendix III of ALINORM 68/9 “… and standards elaborated under the Code of Principles concerning Milk and Milk Products.” as long as the Committee of Government Experts on the Code of Principles had not had an opportunity to give their advice on the proposal.
33. The delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany reserved its position regarding the draft for the Format of standards in respect of the references made to the other standards. The reservation is based on the following principle: “The General Standards should be contained in a fundamental chapter of the Codex together with other generally applicable provisions and accepted by the Member States as such. They are then valid for all other individual standards, where applicable, without the need for reference to them in individual commodity standards.”
34. The Commission discussed the Format in detail and adopted the various headings without rearrangement of order. In connection with the heading “Composition and essential quality factors”, the Commission decided to amend this to read: “Essential composition and quality factors”.
35. The question was raised whether the relevant provisions of the General Standard on Food Labelling should be reproduced fully in each Codex standard or whether it was sufficient to include only those specific labelling provisions which applied to a particular standard and to make only reference to the appropriate part of the General Standard.
36. The Commission agreed to the following redrafted version of the text under the heading “Labelling”:
“This section should include all the labelling provisions contained in the standard and should be prepared in accordance with paragraph 13(a) of the Guidelines for Codex Committees. Provisions should be included either specifically or by reference to the appropriate paragraph of the General Standard on Food Labelling (e.g. ‘paragraphs 2 and 3 of the General Standard shall apply’) and may contain provisions which are exemptions from, additions to, or which are necessary for the interpretation of the General Standard in respect of the product concerned. The following statement should also appear: “The following provisions in respect of the labelling of this product are subject to endorsement [have been endorsed] by the Codex Committee on Food Labelling: ‘The name(s) of the food shall include…’etc.”.”
37. With respect to the heading “Methods of Analysis and Sampling” the Commission was informed that the ISO recommendation R.78 concerning the format for methods of chemical analysis had been adopted by the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling. It was pointed out to the Commission that it might be more appropriate to have separate headings for methods of analysis and methods of sampling. The Commission, however, agreed that both methods of analysis and methods of sampling could be listed under one heading. The Format for Codex Standards as adopted by the Commission is contained in Appendix V to this Report.
38. It was drawn to the Commission's attention that in Step 8 of the Procedure for the Elaboration of World-Wide and Regional Standards a consequential amendment had been overlooked which stemmed from the decision of the Commission to elaborate in place of minimum platform and trading standards only Codex standards. The Commission agreed to delete the words “of the type determined by the Commission” in Step 8 of the Procedure for the Elaboration of both World-Wide and Regional Standards.
39. The Commission had before it paragraph 4 of the Report of the Tenth Session of the Executive Committee (ALINORM 68/4) dealing with the above subject. The Commission noted the recommendation of the Executive Committee that it would not be necessary to establish a Codex Committee on Metrology. As regards the proposal concerning the use of the S.I. Units, the Executive Committee had agreed that Codex Standards should be drafted using these units and had recommended that the Secretariat of the Commission be charged with the task of ensuring that the Codex standards be presented in S.I. Units. In the case of standards which include provisions for the sale of products in standardized amounts, S.I. Units should be used, but this would not preclude additional statements in the standards of these standardized amounts in approximately similar amounts in other systems of weights and measures. This would have the advantage of avoiding inconvenience to countries whose production was geared to any one particular system of units. The Executive Committee had considered that the declaration of net contents was adequately covered by paragraph 26 of the Report of the Second Session of the Codex Committee on Food Labelling which reads as follows:
“The net contents may be declared in the metric or Avoirdupois system of measurement according to the requirements of the country in which the food product is sold. No objection should be taken to the use of both systems on the same label.”
40. During the discussion it was proposed by the delegation of Cuba that the S.I. system should always be used to declare the net contents on a label and that the declaration of net contents in an additional system of units be regarded as optional. The Commission considered that there were two quite separate issues involved, namely, the use of S.I. Units of measurement in drawing up Codex standards and the Cuban proposal for a mandatory requirement concerning the use of the S.I. system on labels. As regards the labelling aspect, the Commission concluded that this was adequately dealt with in section 2.3 of the General Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods. The delegation of Cuba informed the Commission that it would be submitting to the next session of the Codex Committee on Food Labelling a paper on the labelling aspects of the use of S.I. Units.
41. The Codex Alimentarius Commission, at its fourth session, had requested the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene to propose a definition for “food hygiene” for the purposes of the General Principles of the Codex Alimentarius. The Commission had requested the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene to define food hygiene in its widest sense and irrespective of whether the Committee would be concerned with all aspects of the definition in its work.
42. The Codex Committee on General Principles, at its second session, had before it the definition presented by the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene and endorsed the English text of the definition as given below but considered that the French text should use the words “en bon état”.
“Food hygiene comprises conditions and measures necessary for the production, processing and distribution of food designed to ensure a safe, sound, wholesome final product fit for human consumption.”
43. The Commission agreed generally to the meaning of food hygiene, but decided to delete the word “final” to ensure that the definition implied that considerations of food hygiene applied at any given stage in the food production chain. The Commission further agreed to add the word “storage” after the word “processing” because the notion of storage was not covered by the word “distribution” in other languages. The Codex Alimentarius Commission agreed to the following amended definition of food hygiene:
“Food hygiene comprises conditions and measures necessary for the production, processing, storage and distribution of food designed to ensure a safe, sound, wholesome product fit for human consumption.”
44. The delegation of Spain reserved its position on the deletion of the word “final” in the expression “final product” because in its opinion there were semi-finished products which might be unhygienic within the terms of the definition while being at the same time covered by Codex standards. The delegation of Spain reserved its position on this deletion as long as it had not had occasion to inquire whether this might not raise problems under Spanish legislation.
45. It was noted that in the Spanish version of the definition the word “sound” should be translated as “en buen estado”.
46. The Commission had before it a Secretariat paper on the above subject. The Commission noted that a number of its subsidiary bodies had considered that codes of practice would be useful in facilitating compliance with the provisions of Codex standards. The Commission endorsed this view and discussed whether it had authority under its Statutes to elaborate international codes of practice which would constitute recommendations to governments. The Commission concluded that Article 1(a) of the Statutes of the Commission concerning the protection of the health of the consumers gave it sufficient authority to continue its work on codes of hygienic practice. The Commission considered that it might be desirable to be able to elaborate codes of practice for subjects other than purely hygiene, such as codes of technological practice. In order to clarify the position of codes of practice, the Commission requested that the Legal Counsels of both Organizations give an opinion as to whether any amendment would be necessary to the Statutes of the Commission.
47. The Commission agreed that codes of hygienic practice were advisory. Parts of these codes, especially those dealing with end product specifications could, however, be included in Codex standards and could then become mandatory.
48. It was also agreed that the existing Procedure for the Elaboration of Codex Standards should be followed for the preparation of codes of hygienic practice and noted that this Procedure allowed certain steps to be omitted.
49. The Commission thought that codes of practice should not be published in the standards section of the Codex Alimentarius. The Codex Alimentarius should contain appropriate cross-references to these codes.