1. The Twelfth Session of the Joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission was held at FAO Headquarters, Rome, from 17 to 28 April 1978. The session was attended by 343 participants, including the representatives and observers of 68 countries and observers from 25 international organizations (see Appendix I for list of participants).
2. The Commission was presided over by its Chairman, Prof. Dr. E. Matthey (Switzerland) and, for certain items of the agenda, by its three Vice-Chairmen : Prof. Dr. D. Eckert (Federal Republic of Germany), Mr. W.C.K. Hammer (Australia) and Dr. T. N'Doye (Senegal). The Joint Secretaries were Mr. H.J. McNally (FAO) and Dr. D.G. Chapman (WHO).
Address by the Deputy-Director General of FAO
3. The Twelfth Session of the Joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission was convened by the Directors-General of FAO and WHO, and was opened, on behalf of the Directors-General, with a speech of welcome by Dr. Ralph W. Phillips, Deputy Director-General of FAO. Dr. Phillips mentioned the continued growth of interest by Member Governments in the work of the Commission, and the steadily increasing number of international standards being accepted. He referred to the fact that the FAO Conference, at its 19th Session in November 1977, had agreed that the Commission should concentrate more on the needs and concerns of the developing countries and he noted that the trend, already in evidence for several years, of the Commission turning its attention more and more to these needs and concerns was continuing.
4. Other matters highlighted by Dr. Phillips were the Commission's intended review of the direction of its work programme and also the referral by the FAO Council, at its 71st session in June 1977, of certain matters relating to the international food standards to the Commission, for its views for transmission to the Director-General of FAO.
5. Dr. Phillips concluded by expressing the appreciation of FAO and WHO to those Governments which had so generously hosted sessions of the Commission's subsidiary bodies since the last session of the Commission. The full text of the address by Dr. Phillips is contained in Appendix II to this Report.
Reply by the Chairman of the Commission
6. The Chairman thanked Dr. Phillips for having opened the session and for his interesting remarks concerning the work of the Commission. He referred to the growing membership of the Commission, which reflected the importance of the Commission's activities. He thought it very timely that the Commission should, at this session, be reviewing the direction of its work, to see, amongst other things, how better it could respond to the needs of developing countries. The Commission was evolving and some changes in priorities to meet present needs would be a normal and proper development. The Chairman thought that it might be desirable to give greater scope to the Regional Codex Coordinating Committees in their work programmes. He concluded by requesting the Deputy Director-General to convey to the Director-General the good wishes of the Commission, and the assurance that the remarks in the Deputy Director-General's address would be carefully noted by the Commission.
Tribute to Dr. M.F. Markel (USA) and Mr. H.U. Pfister (Switzerland)
7. The Chairman informed the Commission of the deaths of Dr. M.F. Markel (USA) and Mr. H.U. Pfister (Switzerland) since the last session of the Commission. He recalled their many years of association with the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the active roles which they had both played in the work of the Commission from its early days. The Commission observed a minute's silence in memory of Dr. Markel and Mr. Pfister.
Adoption of Agenda and Timetable
8. The Commission adopted the provisional agenda with a slight re-arrangement in the order of items.
Election of Officers of the Commission
9. During the session, the Commission re-elected Prof. E. Matthey (Switzerland) as Chairman of the Commission, to serve from the end of the twelfth to the end of the thirteenth session of the Commission. The Commission also re-elected Prof. Dr. D. Eckert (Federal Republic of Germany) and elected Mr. D.A. Akoh (Nigeria) and Dr. S. Al Shakir (Iraq) as Vice-Chairmen of the Commission, to serve from the end of the twelfth to the end of the thirteenth session of the Commission.
REPORT BY THE CHAIRMAN ON THE TWENTY-THIRD AND TWENTY-FOURTH SESSIONS OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
10. The Commission received reports concerning the 23rd and 24th Sessions of the Executive Committee held in Geneva from 12 to 15 July 1977 and in Rome on 13 and 14 April 1978, respectively. The reports of these two sessions were contained in ALINORM 78/3 (and Corrigendum: English version only) and ALINORM 78/4. In introducing and reviewing the reports, the Chairman indicated that most of the substantive items considered by the Executive Committee would be dealt with by the Commission under the agenda items relating to the matters concerned. The following matters were dealt with under this item of the agenda.
Draft Code of Ethics for the International Trade in Food
11. The Chairman referred to paras 37–40 of the Report of the 23rd Session of the Executive Committee (ALINORM 78/3). He informed the Commission that, in accordance with the instructions of the Executive Committee, the Draft Code had received very wide distribution. It had been sent in July 1977 to (i) All Codex Contact Points, (ii) Participants at the 11th Session of the Commission, (iii) Participants at the 2nd Session of the Coordinating Committee for Africa, (iv) Participants at the 1st Session of the Coordinating Committee for Latin America, (v) Participants at the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Regional Conference for Asia, (vi) Participants at the 10th Session of the Coordinating Committee for Europe, and (vii) Interested international organizations.
12. He mentioned that, in general, the basic ideas contained in the Draft Code had been given preliminary approval by the Coordinating Committees for Africa and Asia. The Code would also be considered by the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Regional Conference for Latin America. The Code was to be developed within the framework of the Codex Committee on General Principles and would be considered by that Committee at its next session in the light of the comments of Member Governments, of the Regional Coordinating Committees for Africa and Asia and of the Food Standards Conference for Latin America.
13. As instructed by the Executive Committee, the Secretariat, in a circular letter, had drawn the particular attention of developing countries to the importance of their being represented in the discussions of a Working Party on this subject which would meet on the first two days of the next session of the Codex Committee on General Principles.
14. The Chairman concluded by informing the Commission that it was not called on, at this stage, to take any action concerning the Draft Code. The Commission took note of the above information.
Proposed GATT Code of Conduct for Preventing Technical Barriers to Trade
15. The Chairman referred to paras 47–50 of the Report of the 24th Session of the Executive Committee (ALINORM 78/4). The Commission took note of the communication from the GATT Secretariat summarizing the most recent developments concerning the Proposed GATT Code.
The Commission noted that the Executive Committee had requested the Secretariat to keep it informed of any further developments in this matter.
Provisional Agenda and Timetable for the 12th Session of the Commission
16. The Chairman informed the Commission that the Executive Committee, at its 23rd Session, had made certain recommendations concerning the order of items in the provisional agenda for the Commission's 12th Session and that these recommendations had been reflected in the agenda which had been placed before the Commission for adoption.
Travel Expenses of the Executive Committee
17. The Chairman referred the Commission to paras 24–32 of the Report of the 24th Session of the Executive Committee (ALINORM 78/4). The Commission endorsed the conclusion of the Executive Committee that it would not be desirable to make any recommendation to the Commission designed to transfer to the Regular Budgets of FAO and WHO the cost of attendance by members of the Executive Committee at Executive Committee sessions.
Membership of the Codex Alimentarius Commission
18. The Commission had before it a list of Members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The membership as at 28 April 1978 is set out below. The Commission noted that since its last session two more countries had become Members of the Commission - the Republic of Chad and the Republic of Guinea - bringing the current membership to 116 countries.
PROGRESS REPORT ON ACCEPTANCES OF RECOMMENDED CODEX STANDARDS AND CODEX MAXIMUM LIMITS FOR PESTICIDE RESIDUES AND ON ACTION TAKEN BY MEMBER COUNTRIES CONCERNING THEIR IMPLEMENTATION
19. The Commission had before it a Summary of Acceptances of Recommended Codex Standards and Codex Maximum Limits for Pesticide Residues contained in the publication CAC/ ACCEPTANCES. The Summary contained information received up to March 1977. The Commission also had before it ALINORM 78/5, Parts I, II, III and IV containing communications from Governments and from the Council of the European Communities on progress made in the acceptance of Recommended Codex Standards since March 1977.
20. At the last session of the Commission (ALINORM 76/44, para. 40), the Secretariat had indicated that it intended to begin a “drive” on acceptances and to initiate a system and format for the regular up-dating of Government replies on acceptance of standards.
21. The Commission noted that an acceptance system for Codex standards had now been established with the help of a consultant. This included a tabulated summary system for Recommended Codex Standards and Recommended Maximum Limits for Pesticide Residues. Information on acceptances from 1970 until the cut-off date in March 1977 had been incorporated in the system. A coding system for conveying the information - particularly necessary in the case of maximum limits for pesticide residues - had also been developed. The whole system had been prepared in loose-leaf form and the publication, referenced as CAC/ACCEPTANCES, had been distributed to Member Governments in November 1977. The information would be up-dated at suitable intervals by issuing new pages giving the latest status of acceptance.
22. Document ALINORM 78/5, Part I, indicated that the European Economic Community, on the one hand, and its Member States on the other, had severally decided to accept, with certain specified deviations, a number of the Recommended International Standards for Sugars (White Sugar; Glucose Syrup; Dried Glucose Syrup; Dextrose Monohydrate; and Dextrose Anhydrous).
23. Document ALINORM 78/5, Part II contained in an Appendix a list of Recommended Codex Standards and Codex Maximum Limits for Pesticide Residues sent to Governments to-date for acceptance. The document also covered the situation with regard to further acceptances received between 18 March 1977 and 1 February 1978. Additional information had also been made available since the 11th session of the Commission, by countries which were not yet in a position to accept standards, concerning the steps they were taking to facilitate acceptance. The following countries (Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Chad, Chile, Cyprus, Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji, Israel, Rep. of Korea, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritius, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Sao Tomé e Principe, Singapore, Surinam, Switzerland, Syria, Zambia) had given acceptances (since 18 March 1977) or additional information (since March/April 1976). The document indicated that several countries had communicated Full Acceptance and a few others had communicated acceptance according to one of the other methods of acceptance provided for. In some cases acceptance had not been given, but there had been an indication that products conforming to the standards would be permitted to circulate freely in the countries concerned.
24. Document ALINORM 78/5, Part III contained information on acceptances supplied by Canada, Costa Rica, Hungary, the Netherlands and the Philippines. Document ALINORM 78/5-Part IV contained information on acceptances given by South Africa and Switzerland.
25. During the discussion which followed the presentation of the above documents, several delegations provided the Commission with additional information on the position with regard to acceptances in their countries.
26. The delegation of the USA stated that it noted the progress reported by the Secretariat with interest and considered that the “drive” on acceptances by the Secretariat was timely and important. The delegation also stated that the USA intended to give higher priority to the consideration of the acceptance of maximum limits for pesticide residues and also to some of the commodity standards. The USA expected to be in a position in the next few months to indicate its position concerning acceptance of maximum limits for pesticide residues. In addition, some 30 of the standards covering various commodities were being examined for acceptance. The milk and milk products standards being examined were being considered for acceptance under the Codex acceptance procedure.
27. The Observer from the European Economic Community recalled that on several occasions in the past, the Community had stressed its interest in the work of the Commission. The acceptances with specified deviations, contained in ALINORM 78/5-Part I were the first acceptances by the EEC. The Observer from the EEC stated that he hoped that the EEC would be able to communicate further acceptances in the future. In this connection the EEC was considering the question of acceptance in connection with standards for Cocoa Products and Chocolate, Fruit Juices and Honey. EEC rules had been established which would make the decision process easier.
28. The delegation of Norway pointed out that in addition to the importance of acceptances for international trade, Norway placed great importance on the effect of acceptance in protecting the consumer. The delegation indicated that Norway had been actively considering the standards and would soon be in a position to communicate acceptance of some of them.
29. The delegation of New Zealand indicated that New Zealand would soon be in a position to communicate acceptances for a number of the maximum limits for pesticide residues, up to
and including the 5th series. Acceptances would, in some cases, be Full Acceptance and in other cases Limited Acceptance. With regard to commodity standards, industry was at present being consulted for their views on acceptances.
30. The delegation of Canada emphasized that the drive on acceptances was an important and necessary part of the Codex Programme. Canada planned to accept the standard for Cream Cheese under the Codex acceptance procedure and was undertaking a complete review of the standards for cheeses with a view to their acceptance under the Codex procedure. Thirteen processed fruits and vegetables standards were also being examined, but because of internal legislative problems it was anticipated that decisions on acceptance would not be communicated until late 1979.
31. The delegation of Czechoslovakia pointed out that the full value of Codex standards could not be judged by acceptances alone. Even though Czechoslovakia had not yet accepted any Codex standards, the transfer of Codex criteria to national standards was already taking place, but this was a lengthy process. The delegation stated that the work of Codex in food standardization was highly appreciated in Czechoslovakia.
32. The delegation of Senegal stated that Senegal envisaged, if possible, examining the Recommended Codex Standards in connection with the National Institute for Standardization, the African Regional Standards Organization and the Economic Community for Western Africa. The delegation added that it hoped that it would soon be possible for Senegal to take positive steps towards accepting Codex standards.
33. The delegation of Venezuela informed the Commission that in Venezuela the infrastructure had been set up for considering giving acceptance to the Codex standards. All Codex standards were at present under examination and it was hoped that in a short time it would be possible to accept some of the standards.
34. The delegation of Cuba referred to the organization in Cuba of a State Committee for Standardization which would review all Codex standards and it was expected soon to give a decision on their acceptance. The delegation of Cuba also drew attention to a typographical error in the Spanish version of document ALINORM 78/3, para. 5, 2nd sentence, where Cuba had been erroneously listed. On the basis of the English version of ALINORM 78/3, Kuwait should have been listed and not Cuba.
35. The delegation of Iraq indicated that Iraq had already established a Codex Standards Committee. The Codex standards were being studied and Iraq hoped to be able to communicate soon its position on acceptances.
36. The delegation of Argentina recalled that Argentina had been one of the first countries to indicate its position on acceptances of the first batch of Codex standards. More Codex standards were being studied in Argentina and it was hoped to inform the Commission of the results of the work in due course.
37. The delegation of Hungary referred to Hungary's written reply in ALINORM 78/5- Part II. Following the establishment of the new Hungarian Food Act, all the Codex standards were in the process of being examined and a further communication on acceptances would be forwarded to the Commission as soon as possible.
38. The Commission agreed that the information on acceptances contained in the written replies and the statements on this subject made by several delegations during the discussion on this item were encouraging signs for the future. The Commission noted with interest the progress made so far and expressed the hope that more acceptances would soon be communicated by Governments.
39. The Secretariat informed the Commission that a supplement to CAC/ACCEPTANCES would be issued shortly after the 12th Session of the Commission, incorporating further acceptances received up to the date of the supplement.
REPORT ON FINANCIAL SITUATION OF THE JOINT FAO/WHO FOOD STANDARDS PROGRAMME FOR 1976/77 AND 1978/79
40. The Commission had before it document ALINORM 78/6, which had already been the subject of consideration by the Executive Committee at its 24th Session (ALINORM 78/4, paras 6–7). The document was introduced by the Secretariat. The Commission took not of the commentary and explanations given by the Secretariat in its presentation of the document.
41. The delegation of the USA recalled that at the 11th Session of the Commission it had drawn attention to the need for the Commission to revert to the previous schedule of approximately 18 months between sessions of the Commission. The delegation of the USA stressed this because of the importance attached to the work of the Commission throughout the world and also because of the need for the Commission to avoid any loss of momentum. The delegation of the USA was pleased to note, at the current session, that this request had been responded to by the provision for two sessions of the Commission in 1978/79. In this connection the delegation of the USA expressed its appreciation to the Director-General of FAO.
42. The delegation of the USA referred to the concern which had been expressed by the Executive Committee at the diminution over the years of professional staff in the Joint Office of the Programme (FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme Group, ESN) which now stood at 5 professional officers, against a background of expanding Codex work, more especially in the developing countries. The US delegation also referred to the hope which had been expressed by the Executive Committee that this would not result in any lessening of the standard and quality of Codex documentation generally. The US delegation indicated that it was in complete agreement with the views of the Executive Committee on this matter.
43. The delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany also stressed the importance which it attached to the Codex Programme and the importance which it attached to the continued financial support of the Programme by FAO and WHO.
REPORT ON ACTIVITIES WITHIN FAO AND WHO COMPLEMENTARY TO THE WORK OF THE CODEX ALIMENTARIUS COMMISSION
44. The Commission had before it document ALINORM 78/7, which contained three sections: Section A - Joint FAO/WHO Activities; Section B - Report of FAO Activities; Section C - Report of WHO Activities.
45. In introductory remarks, the FAO Secretariat pointed out that ALINORM 78/7 contained an account of the work done by FAO and WHO to promote basic food control and consumer protection activities in member countries, particularly in developing countries. These FAO and WHO activities show the strong complementarity of the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the work of the agencies. In this regard reference was made to the reliance of the Codex Committees on Food Additives and Pesticide Residues on evaluations produced by the Joint FAO/ WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives and the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues, respectively. It was also noted that recommendations and requests from these two Codex Committees led to further work for the two FAO/WHO Expert Committees. Reference was also made to the use of Codex standards and codes as basic materials for revising or up-dating national food control legislation or in training activities by FAO and WHO in food control projects.
46. The FAO and WHO Secretariat mentioned various joint FAO/WHO activities outlined in Section A of the paper. The accomplishments of the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) in evaluating some 130 food additives in its 20th (1976) and 21st (1977) meetings were mentioned. Mention was also made of the work recently completed in the 22nd (1978) session of the JECFA, and a report was given of the progress of the publishing of the JECFA reports and technological and specifications monographs. Similar information was also given for the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) which met in 1976 and 1977. It was pointed out that FAO was currently responsible for publication of the JMPR report and monographs, and JECFA specifications for food additives, while WHO was responsible for publishing the JECFA report and food additive toxicological monographs.
47. The WHO Secretariat commented on the Second Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Microbiological Specifications for Foods, which had prepared guidelines for the establishment of microbiological criteria in certain foods. The Codex Committee on Food Hygiene will make use of the work of the Expert Consultation. Similarly, an FAO/WHO Working Group on Slaughter Hygiene, Meat Inspection and Judgement of Meat was mentioned, which was convened in Rome in 1977 to discuss improvements of meat hygiene in areas where modern facilities are lacking. This Working Group recommended that an international code on ante- and post-mortem judgement of slaughter animals would be useful in establishing widely acceptable guidelines.
48. The continuing work of FAO, IAEA and WHO on irradiated foods was noted. A Joint FAO/IAEA/WHO Expert Committee on the Wholesomeness of Irradiated Foods met in 1976 and set safety criteria for irradiated foods and gave “unconditional acceptance” or “provisional acceptance” to a number of irradiated foods.
49. The Secretariat informed the Commission of a Joint FAO/WHO Consultation of Food Control Strategy, held in Geneva in December 1977. This Consultation reviewed all aspects of food control systems and recommended a plan of action including priorities and target dates for FAO, WHO and governments to enable strengthening of food control programmes at the national and international levels within the next few years. The Consultation recommended close collaboration between FAO and WHO in this area.
50. Information was also given on the Joint FAO/WHO Food and Animal Feed Contamination Monitoring Programme. The Commission was informed that 18 National Collaborating Centres had been designated and was informed about the type of information the Programme would be collecting in 1978.
51. The Commission was given a report on the FAO/WHO/UNEP Conference on Mycotoxins, which was held in Nairobi in 1977. The Conference recognized the serious economic and health problems caused by mycotoxins in food and animal feed and recommended a number of steps for international agencies and governments to follow to reduce post-harvest losses of food and feed and give better consumer protection from mycotoxins. The Commission was informed of a number of publications on mycotoxins, including the Conference report, which were already available from FAO and WHO, or would be completed in the near future.
52. The Secretariat also mentioned that the Second FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Methods of Sampling and Analysis for Contaminants in Foods was held in Rome in 1978. This meeting had recommended that a focal agency such as the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) be established to coordinate the development of collaboratively tested methods of analysis, in conjunction with other groups interested in collaborative testing of analytical methods. This mechanism, once established, should be of interest to the Commission.
53. A brief review was made of FAO and WHO publications on food hygiene, food inspection and general guidelines for development of food control services. The FAO Secretariat mentioned that an FAO manual on food analysis for use in moderately equipped laboratories was being developed with funding assistance from the Government of Sweden.
54. In a review of FAO activities, the FAO Secretariat drew attention to the list of national or regional FAO projects underway in a number of countries. These projects include assistance in strengthening food control infrastructure, food legislation, training of food inspectors, chemists, microbiologists and food control administrators; strengthening laboratory facilities, and assisting in improving control of food contaminants, as well as control of more classical food problems. As an example, it was mentioned that as a follow-up to the Mycotoxins Conference, FAO had made a survey of several francophone West African countries and was currently considering how best to assist these countries in attacking the problems revealed by the survey.
55. With regard to training in food control, the FAO Secretariat stated that this receives high priority from FAO. Various types of training were mentioned such as external short and longterm fellowships, national or regional seminars, on-the-job training by FAO experts and international training courses. A six month course on analysis of contaminants in foods is underway in India, with participants from several countries; a second course is planned from 1978 to 1979; short term courses on mycotoxins have been or will be held in Mysore, Paris and Tunisia. All of these FAO courses are supported by UNEP. FAO will also carry out a training course for food inspectors, in Arabic, in the Middle East during 1978–79.
56. Mention was made of the FAO activities in food consumption surveys which are useful in estimating intakes of various food contaminants when utilized with food contaminant monitoring data. FAO, in collaboration with WHO and UNEP, is currently preparing guidelines for the estimation of food contaminant intakes.
57. WHO, in summarizing its current related activities, made mention of its Food Safety Programme which is currently involved in preparing assessments of various chemical and microbiological environmental contaminants and called particular attention to its Health Criteria Programme. Several monographs on different environmental contaminants have been published and a number are in progress. The information presented in Part C of the paper also summarized the over-all objectives, approaches and some examples of Food Safety activities.
58. The WHO Secretariat also presented an oral report on the WHO Food Virology Programme which provides information to member governments on request and provides for training of individuals. In discussing microbiological specifications, the WHO Secretariat called attention to the criteria which have been laid down by the FAO/WHO Expert Consultations mentioned above (paras 257–262) and discussed how these might be useful to the Commission, particularly to the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene. WHO training activities in food microbiology were mentioned in both developed and developing countries. A number of related WHO activities on parasitic zoonoses, prevention surveillance and control of food-borne diseases, including diarrhoeal diseases were mentioned, including a number of WHO or FAO/WHO meetings which have been held on these topics.
59. In discussing this agenda item, a number of delegations commended FAO and WHO for their efforts in assisting member countries, particularly developing countries in strengthening food control services. The need for a great deal of additional work was recognized, including training of food control personnel at several levels. Support was given to activities concerning environmental contaminants. One delegation called attention to the need for additional attention to problems caused by contaminated water in the Sahel area of Africa and stressed the importance of WHO action in this field.
60. A discussion was held on the need for more speed in printing reports of the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives and the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues. Delegations called attention to the need for timely printing of these reports so they would be available to the respective Codex Committees using them. The delegation of the Netherlands, host country to the Codex Committees on Food Additives and Pesticide Residues, also called for WHO or joint FAO/WHO consideration of other contaminants and mentioned in particular the need for a study on the toxicity of mycotoxins appearing in milk, such as aflatoxin M1. It also commended FAO and WHO on its food contaminant monitoring and food safety work and looked forward to receiving copies of the manual on estimation of food contaminant intake.
61. The delegation of Iraq commended FAO and WHO on its food control efforts and stated that more joint FAO/WHO missions to developing countries would be useful. It also requested increased cooperation with regional centres involved in various aspects of food control problems and enquired about the role of FAO Regional Offices in this regard. The delegation urged additional support to food control laboratories and also requested the agencies to remember the training needs at the rural level.
62. The delegation of the USA mentioned its strong support of FAO and WHO's training activities and programmes to build stronger food control infrastructure in developing countries. It mentioned that food safety evaluation was an important element of this activity and was essential for certain Commission activities and urged continued or increased support to the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives and the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues. The delegation urged that FAO and WHO find means to increase developing countries participation in Codex commodity, labelling and other committees, but mentioned that the Commission should not give differential treatment to attain this increased participation.
63. The delegation of Nigeria stated its support of the statements of the USA and Iraq and stated that there should be more emphasis on FAO and WHO food safety support. The delegation mentioned that it was receiving strong assistance from FAO in the area of food control but that increased WHO support was also essential to enable direction of additional government resources for Ministry of Health food control programmes. The delegation mentioned the need for FAO and WHO to hold more national and regional seminars on various food control topics and to better publicize training possibilities in other regions so that African nominees could participate. The needs for food inspection training, mycotoxins programmes and improved laboratory methodology were highlighted.
64. The delegation of Brazil noted with pleasure the consensus of opinion that training and strengthening basic food control infrastructure were the primary needs. It stated that differential or preferential treatment was often called for to assist developing countries in trade development, but agreed that basic standards for commodities had to be universal. Since these would be universal, they must have sufficient latitude to take into account unavoidable differences in pesticide residue or microbiological levels of foods from tropical or sub-tropical countries. The delegation of Iraq supported this statement.
65. The delegation of Norway called attention to the complexities of analysis for certain contaminants, such as trace metals in fish. It drew attention to the need for selection of adequately qualified candidates for training and assuring that courses were of sufficient length to suit the training need. The requirement of supply of adequate equipment and reagents in the countries of trainees must also be taken into account.
66. The delegation of France, in commenting on the paper ALINORM 78/7, felt that there was a need for additional emphasis of FAO food and nutrition activities since FAO had a paramount role to play at the international level in programmes on food production, processing, storage, distribution and quality control.
67. In response to the various points and questions raised in the discussions, the Secretariats of FAO and WHO assured the Commission that every effort would be made to speed up publication of Expert Committee reports and that this would be drawn to the attention of the highest levels in the agencies. The usefulness of Joint FAO/WHO food control missions was acknowledged and a joint FAO/WHO/Arab Standards and Metrology Organization (ASMO) mission to several Near Eastern countries was mentioned. The FAO Secretariat mentioned that FAO tries to contact all agencies involved in food control in a country when surveying food control problems or carrying out food control assistance projects and that this includes contact and briefing of the WHO Country Representatives. In addition, excellent liaison existed between FAO and WHO at the Headquarters level.
68. The FAO Secretariat pointed out that the FAO Regional Offices have Regional Nutrition Officers who are responsible for promotion of food control programmes, in addition to other nutrition activities. Training materials for food inspection, extension workers and consumers at all levels were developed to reach the rural areas with information on better food storage, pesticide usage, food preparation, etc., as well as urban population and food processors. The inclusion in technical assistance projects of support to strengthening of laboratories, including costly equipment, was mentioned.
69. In response to the call for increased FAO and WHO support in food control, the FAO Secretariat mentioned that food control systems in a number of countries were inadequate and one of the reasons was isolation of various food control functions in different ministries without adequate coordination of efforts. Guidelines had been prepared urging better coordination, so that governments would realize that food control was a developmental activity requiring control of food problems from the production stage through processing, storage and distribution up to the consumption stage. This required coordination of various ministry efforts, if maximum benefits in reduction of food losses and promotion of food quality and safety were to be expected. FAO and WHO were giving each other full support in food control development at the national, regional or international level and at the national level supported projects to the extent necessary which the other agency was operating.
70. The Commission, in summing up, took note of the FAO and WHO activities. It recognized the increased emphasis on food control activities over the past four years, FAO's role in the production, processing, storage, distribution and quality control areas, and WHO in food safety activities. It noted the current coordination of activities between the two agencies and urged a continuation or strengthening of such coordination.
INFORMATION ON THE ACTIVITIES OF OTHER INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS WORKING ON THE STANDARDIZATION OF FOODS AND RELATED MATTERS
71. The Commission had before it the following documents:
ALINORM 78/31 - Part I - Progress Report on the Activities of the Arab Organization for Standardization and Metrology (ASMO) in the Field of Food Standards and Control;
ALINORM 78/31 - Part II - Food Standards Work of the Working Party on the Standardization of Perishable Produce of Economic Commission for Europe - Committee on Agricultural Problems;
ALINORM 78/31 - Part III - Progress Report on the Activities of the Council of Europe (Partial Agreement) on Health Aspects of Food and Agriculture;
ALINORM 78/31 - Part IV - Report on the Activities of Technical Committee ISO/TC 34 - Agricultural Food Products;
ALINORM 78/31 - Part V - Work of the European Economic Community;
ALINORM 78/31 - Part VI - Information Note on the activities of the CMEA Standing Commission on Food Industry in the Field of Standardization of Food Products.
72. The Commission took note of the progress made by these Organizations in the field of standardization of food and methodology and in other areas of close interest to the Commission. The representative of ASMO provided the following information to be added to page 4 of document ALINORM 78/31 - Part I:
Technical Committee for Processed Food Products
73. The Technical Committee for Processed Food Products held its meeting in Cairo during the period 2–5 October 1977. It discussed and edited the final text of the following five new food standards:
74. The representative of the Hungarian Secretariat of ISO TC 34 indicated that in addition to the activities listed in document ALINORM 78/31 - Part IV, ISO, through its sub-committees and working groups, was elaborating standards for sampling, testing, terminology, storage and transport. ISO was also active in the field of microbiology and sensory evaluation and had also drawn up standards for the 22 most important spices. As regards work on coffee, the ISO representative indicated her Organization's willingness to collaborate with the Commission, should it be decided to draw up Codex standards for this commodity.
75. The representative of the Hungarian Secretariat of ISO TC 34 referred to earlier discussions in the Commission concerning the establishment of a Codex Committee on Cereals and Cereal Products (see para. 161). She expressed the opinion that, before arriving at a final decision concerning the terms of reference and future work of that new Committee, it would be indispensable to discuss the matter with ISO, the International Organization of Cereal Chemistry (ICC) and the Commission of the European Community (CEC). Such discussions should avoid duplication by the Commission of work already carried out by the ISO Cereals and Pulses Sub-Committee with the participation of 22 countries and the cooperation of ICC and CEC.
76. The representative of the Hungarian Secretariat of ISO TC 34 indicated that in some areas a closer and enhanced cooperation between ISO and the Commission would result in a more rapid and efficient work on standardization. This in turn would result in savings in resources which could be employed in solving some of the problems facing developing countries. The representative of the Hungarian Secretariat of ISO TC 34 then invited the Commission's Secretariat to resume the exchange of views begun in Budapest in 1977 in an endeavour to reach agreement on the form cooperation between ISO and the Commission should take. The Commission reminded the representative of ISO of the agreement between ISO and the Commission that the Commission was concerned primarily with food standards, whilst ISO would concentrate on analytical methods.
CONSIDERATION OF EXTRACT FROM THE REPORT OF THE 71 st SESSION OF THE FAO COUNCIL CONCERNING FOOD STANDARDS AND VIEWS OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
77. During the course of the 51st Session of the FAO Committee on Commodity Problems certain matters were raised concerning the economic impact of the international food standards on developing countries. The substance of those discussions was reproduced in paragraphs 36 to 38 of the Report of the 71st Session of the FAO Council, the relevant section of which was before the Commission as Appendix I to document ALINORM 78/3. The Committee on Commodity Problems had been unable to reach a consensus on the matter and had, therefore, agreed that this subject and its deliberations on it be brought to the attention of the FAO Council.
78. The discussions which took place in the FAO Council on this subject were reflected in paragraphs 39 to 42 of Appendix I to document ALINORM 78/3. The FAO Council had agreed that this matter and the various views expressed on it, as recorded in the report of the Council session and in its verbatim report, should be referred to the Codex Alimentarius Commission and its Executive Committee for consideration and for reporting to the Director-General of FAO on its views on the different proposals and points raised, so as to enable the Director-General to report to the Council at its autumn session in 1978.
79. The Executive Committee, at its 23rd Session, considered this matter. The views expressed in the Executive Committee on the different proposals and points raised during the Council discussions on this subject were set forth in paragraphs 77 to 84 of its report (ALINORM 78/3).
80. In order to assist the Commission as much as possible in its deliberations on this subject, the Secretariat, in a circular letter (CL 1977/47, December 1977) addressed to all Member Countries, had invited any country which was of the opinion that the international food standards or some of them operated or were used in the way or for the purpose mentioned in subparagraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph 40 of the Report of the Council session to furnish specific examples, with details. Two countries had replied that they had not had any experience which would enable them to furnish the Commission with examples of this kind. However, one delegation - the delegation of Ghana - did supply written views on this subject (document LIM. 6). The delegation of Senegal stated that the example quoted concerning Senegal during the FAO Council discussions had not been given by a Senegalese and that it was not appropriate for several reasons.
81. In addition to the documents mentioned above, the Commission also had before it document CL 71/PV/6, containing the verbatim record of the FAO Council's discussions on food standards.
82. Twenty-seven delegations and the observer from one international organization expressed their views on this subject. The delegation of Ghana was invited to introduce document LIM. 6. The document gave general support to the points made in paragraphs 40 (a) and (b) of the Report of the FAO Council discussions (ALINORM 78/3, Appendix I) and set forth examples from the reports of certain Codex Committees of how, in the opinion of Ghana, some Codex standards operated or were used in the way or for the purpose mentioned in paragraphs 40(a) and (b) referred to above. The examples cited concerned the recommended international maximum limit for lindane on cocoa beans, and certain matters arising from the work of or from decisions taken by the Codex Committees on Cocoa Products and Chocolate, Fats and Oils, and Food Hygiene.
83. The delegation of Ghana, during the course of its remarks on the above topics, laid particular stress on the importance, from the point of view of the development of the economy of Ghana, of ensuring that international standards for cocoa and cocoa products were realistic in the sense of facilitating and promoting exports. In this connection, the document referred to some examples where, in the opinion of Ghana, it could be said that exports were not being promoted by some of the provisions of the standards developed by the Committee.
84. Concerning the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils, reference was made in the document to the matter of the erucic acid content of Brassica derived oils and to the health implications of this in connection with the development of international standards for rapeseed oil. Reference was also made to the circumstances which eventually led the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils to agree to develop an international standard for palm oil. The Canadian delegation stated that, on the basis of research conducted in Canada and elsewhere, low erucic acid rapeseed oil was considered to be a safe and nutritious source of fat in the Canadian diet. The delegation of India supported by the delegation of Hungary and many other delegations felt that there was a need to study whether it was only the erucic acid present in oils derived from Brassica which posed a health hazard or whether there were other ingredients present in the oils of this family which might, in conjunction with erucic acid, make it a health hazard.
85. Concerning the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene, reference was made to the code of hygienic practice being developed for peanuts, and to the view of some delegations which attended the 3rd Session of the Coordinating Committee for Africa that the draft code, as it stood, was too complex to meet the needs of developing countries. Reference was also made to the problem of aflatoxin.
86. The Secretariat drew the attention of the Commission to the fact that the figure of 1.0 mg/kg, which had been requested by Ghana as the international maximum limit for lindane on cocoa beans, had indeed been fixed at that level, and that the figure was not 0.05 ppm, as had been supposed in document LIM. 6. Concerning the remarks made about the work of the Codex Committee on Cocoa Products and Chocolate, the Secretariat mentioned that participants at sessions of Codex Committees, including the Codex Committee on Cocoa Products and Chocolate, had varying interests to defend. The provisions of international standards tended, therefore, to represent a compromise of interests, which gave varying degrees of satisfaction - but usually not complete satisfaction - to all of the parties involved in the negotiations at Codex Committee sessions. It was clear that compromise, within the limits of the aims and goals set out in the Statutes of the Commission, was, of necessity, a main feature of international food standards work.
87. As regards the matter of erucic acid in Brassica derived oils, the Secretariat pointed out that, in fact, an FAO/WHO Expert Committee had recently been convened and had, amongst other things, considered this matter. The Secretariat referred to several other aspects of this matter, including the problem of designations for the oil, indicating, inter alia, that the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils would be considering the views of the Expert Committee at its next session. Concerning the draft standard for palm oil, it was noted that this draft standard was being developed on the basis of data from Ghana.
88. As regards the draft code of hygienic practice for peanuts, the Secretariat indicated that whilst there was general awareness of the seriousness of the problem of aflatoxin from the point of view of health as well as from the point of view of trade, no limits had, in fact, been set for aflatoxin, as yet, within the Codex framework; the matter was still under consideration and the views of the Conference on Mycotoxins held in Nairobi in September 1977 would need to be taken into account.
89. The Secretariat concluded its commentary on document LIM. 6 by reiterating that one of the main aims of the Programme was to facilitate international trade. As had been mentioned earlier there would probably always be varying degrees of benefit and, no doubt, varying degrees of satisfaction accruing from participation in the work of the Programme. Several delegations supported the points raised by the delegation of Ghana as valid examples of negative impact of the Codex work on the economies of developing countries. The delegation of Ghana, whilst not, in any way, departing from its views as set forth in LIM. 6, indicated its appreciation of the additional commentary of the Secretariat, which it found helpful.
90. The case for the views and proposals of the Group of 77, which appear in paragraph 40 of the Report of the FAO Council's 71st Session, was put forward by the delegation of Brazil. Whilst the delegation of Brazil stressed that, in its view, the position taken by the Group of 77, both in the FAO Committee on Commodity Problems and in the FAO Council, was fundamentally correct, it also emphasized that those who supported the views of the Group of 77 also supported the basic ideals and aims of the Codex. The approach, therefore, should be one of seeing what improvements could be made in the Codex apparatus in order to meet the needs of developing countries.
91. The delegation of Brazil gave examples which, in its opinion, served to support the statements made in paragraphs 40 (a) and (b) of Appendix I to ALINORM 78/3. The delegation stated that there had been a progressive reduction in the figure for the minimum amount of cocoa solids provided for in the standard for chocolate. It also referred to the draft standard for the so-called white chocolate which was a product containing no fat-free cocoa solids. In the opinion of the Brazilian delegation, it was not in the interest of the consumer that the designation “chocolate” should be used in connection with a product containing no fat-free cocoa solids and, therefore, not having the colour normally associated with chocolate.
92. Another example cited by the delegation of Brazil related to the draft standard for sardines and, more specifically, to the labelling provisions, which, by suggesting a “sardine-type product” in relation to species other than pilchardus, made marketing of such species more difficult, even though they were traditionally known and labelled as sardines.
93. The definition of meat was another example cited by the delegation of Brazil as presenting a problem for some developing countries, from the point of view of their export trade. Also international maximum limits for pesticide residues for products produced in developing countries should be more liberal, in order to take account of the climatic conditions and associated pest control problems in different parts of the world. Concerning impurities in salt, it was necessary to draw a distinction between rock salt and marine salt.
94. The delegation of Brazil, referring to the views which had been expressed by the Group of 77 in the FAO Committee on Commodity Problems and the FAO Council, recalled that the following points had been suggested as criteria for re-examining Codex work with a view to its improvement:
Consider the relevance of the standards from the point of view of the developing countries.
Determine the impact of the standards on the growth of food industries in developing countries.
Take account of the needs of emerging food industries in developing countries.
Consider the effect of the standards on the export earnings of developing countries.
In order to do these things, it had been suggested that the FAO Committee on Commodity Problems could help by playing a monitoring role. It had been equally suggested that such monitoring could be facilitated by the preparation of trade impact statements, before the draft standards were approved at Step 8.
95. A number of delegations thought it necessary to have some Committee which could look into the economic effects of Codex standards. They also favoured concise trade impact statements.
96. Referring to the disadvantages, inherent in the Codex practice, of accepting hosting facilities on a permanent basis, thus far in all cases from developed countries, the delegation of Brazil expressed the opinion that this led, in a number of cases, to negative consequences for the food industry and trade of developing countries, as well as paucity of attendance by them. The delegation of Brazil reiterated the suggestion of the Group of 77 that there should gradually be a move towards holding more of the Committee sessions at FAO or WHO Headquarters. The same delegation pointed out that this could facilitate attendance, because there would always be the possibility of representation from Permanent Missions. The above opinions were shared by a number of other delegations.
97. A number of delegations pointed out that the host-country concept was chosen because of programme and budgetary reasons. They stressed that host countries attempted to see that all issues, whether brought up by developing or developed countries, were fully considered in the development of draft standards.
98. The delegation of Brazil was in favour of a more effective role for the Regional Codex Coordinating Committees, but thought that membership should be limited to the countries of the region.
99. In conclusion, the delegation of Brazil stated that there seemed to be a consensus emerging in favour of doing more to help developing countries and to take into greater account their needs and concerns. The Brazilian delegation added that if it was pointing to certain shortcomings, it was solely because Codex work was very important, as was also the need to make it more beneficial for developing countries.
100. In support of the proposals of the Group of 77, the delegation of India stated that the Executive Committee, at its 23rd session, had not shown sensitive appreciation of the problems of the developing countries. The approach taken by the Executive Committee in calling for specific examples of Codex standards which have adversely affected the trade of the developing countries could not lead to purposeful discussions by the Commission or the FAO governing bodies. Keeping in view the atmosphere of rapid change in the developing countries, it would be beneficial if the Commission were to take cognisance of this fact and devise a suitable mechanism under which the views of the developing countries were suitably accommodated, for the benefit of all, as also to maintain the universal nature of the Commission.
101. Several delegations indicated that they were in support of the views which had been expressed by the Group of 77: some were in support of certain aspects of these views, whilst others were in support of the views which had been expressed by the Executive Committee at its 23rd session. The Commission agreed, however, that it was necessary to take into greater account the needs of the developing countries and to make Codex work more responsive to these needs.
102. The Commission did not think it would be profitable to argue the validity or merits of the detailed statements, from both sides, as they appeared in the Report of the Council, or, to argue the validity or merits of the examples given by the delegation of Brazil in support of the views of the Group of 77. The Commission, therefore, did not proceed along such lines, more especially as it was clear that a general consensus was emerging on the need for making suitable changes, in order to make Codex work more responsive to the needs and concerns of developing countries.
103. There was a general consensus in the Commission that the Commission itself was the appropriate body for dealing with any of its own problems. There was also a general consensus about the need for re-examining priorities. In this connection, the Commission noted that it would be looking at this matter under a later item of the agenda.
104. In order to respond to the wishes of developing countries on the question of the economic impact or implications which the international standards might have for them, it was proposed to the Commission that it adopt the following amendments to the Procedure for the Elaboration of Worldwide Codex Standards:
The proposed draft standard is sent by the Commission's Secretariat to Member States and Associate Members of FAO and/or WHO and to the international organizations concerned in order to obtain their comments on all aspects, including possible implications of the proposed draft standard for their economic interests.
The proposed draft standard is submitted through the Secretariat to the Commission with a view to its adoption as a draft standard. The Commission may, however, refer it to a special subsidiary body, set up under Rule IX. 1(a) of the Rules of Procedure, before adopting it as a draft standard or may entrust the special subsidiary body with the responsibility for undertaking steps 5, 7 and 8 of this Procedure or any part thereof. In taking any decision at this-step, the Commission will give due consideration to any comments that may be submitted by any of its Members regarding the implications which the proposed draft standard or any provisions thereof may have for their economic interests.
The draft standard is sent by the Commission's Secretariat [ for comment ] to all Member States and Associate Members of FAO and/or WHO and to the international organizations concerned in order to obtain their comments on all aspects, including possible implications of the proposed draft standard for their economic interests.
Although a number of delegations expressed misgivings about making the proposed changes in the Elaboration Procedure at this time, the majority favoured adoption of the proposed amendments.
105. With the adoption of the amendments, those delegations which were in favour of the FAO Committee on Commodity Problems having a monitoring role - with particular reference to monitoring the impact of food standards on the export interests of developing countries - agreed, by way of compromise, not to press for such a role to be given to the Committee on Commodity Problems.
(1) Words underlined added and words in square brackets [ ] deleted.
106. The question of how best to arrange for consideration and evaluation of the responses of Governments concerning the economic impact of particular food standards was discussed. Some delegations thought a Committee within the Codex framework should be set up for this purpose. Others were opposed to the establishment of another Committee for such a purpose, and thought that use should be made of the Codex Committee on General Principles in this connection. The Commission agreed that the Codex Committee on General Principles should, at its next session, examine the adopted amendments and make recommendations to the Commission as to the most appropriate mechanism for examining economic impact statements submitted under the new procedures. To facilitate this task, the Commission requested the Secretariat to ask governments beforehand for their views on this matter.
107. The Commission concluded that the new arrangements should enable any difficulties of an economic nature that might arise from standards to be fully examined within the Commission or the appropriate Commodity Committee. In this way the Commission was providing the means, within its procedures, for the resolution of any problems of this kind, should they arise. It was noted that these measures would be communicated to the Director-General of FAO who would be reporting to the FAO Council and Conference on the matter.
REVIEW OF THE DIRECTION OF THE WORK OF THE COMMISSION
108. The Commission had before it document ALINORM 78/8. The Commission also had before it the views of the Executive Committee on that document, set forth in ALINORM 78/4. The document was introduced by the Secretariat.
109. Twenty-four delegations and the observers from two international organizations expressed their views on various aspects of the document. It was the view of most delegations that the suggestions and proposals set forth in the document provided a very useful basis for the Commission's deliberations on this subject.
110. Except for the following observations, there was no dissent expressed as regards the statements in the document relating to (i) the purpose of the Commission's work, (ii) the rationale for the Commission's activities, (iii) the implementation of the aims of the Commission, and (iv) the benefits to be derived from the work of the Commission. The view was put forward that whilst the statements in the paper concerning the purpose of the Commission's work were valid, more attention needed to be given to the interests of developing countries in working to implement these aims. In this connection the point was made that, on the basis of earlier discussions on related matters (see paras 99, 102–103 of this Report), it was clear that there was a general consensus in favour of the desirability of attuning the Commission's work more to the concerns and needs of developing countries. This included, in response to a point made by several delegations, the need for making Codex work more relevant for developing countries, although it was pointed out by some delegations that steps in this direction had already been taken earlier by a number of the Commission's subsidiary bodies, and, indeed, by the Commission itself.
111. Several delegations stressed the importance of and the need for more emphasis to be placed on food control infrastructure and they thought that this should be mentioned specifically in one of the chapter headings mentioned in para. 110 above. It was noted however that, whilst the provision of technical assistance, project work, etc. in the field of food control was outside the scope of the Commission's activities, the Regional Coordinating Committees provided a forum for discussing problems in this area. In this way, a concerted approach to problems of food control infrastructure could be developed, and recommendations at the regional level could be formulated, leading, hopefully, to increased assistance in this important area, with a view to enabling developing countries to be in a better position to make use of the recommendations of the Commission.
112. The Commission agreed that the work of the Codex Committees on General Principles, Food Additives, Pesticide Residues, Food Hygiene and Food Labelling was, by its very nature, ongoing and essential to the progress of the Programme. The Commission saw no reason to recommend any change, therefore, in the work programmes of those Committees. The Commission expressed no view in regard to the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling. noting that the work of this Committee would be discussed later on under a separate item of the agenda (see paras 277–290).
113. As regards the Codex Committee on General Principles, attention was drawn to the fact that the Code of Ethics for the International Trade in Food was to be developed within the framework of that Committee. In this connection an opinion was expressed that there would be advantage in not proceeding further with the draft Code until such time as the GATT Code of Conduct for Preventing Technical Barriers to Trade had been completed, which was expected to be in the Summer of this year. It was suggested that an examination of the GATT Code, when completed, would facilitate a more constructive approach as to what ought to be the contents of the Code of Ethics for the International Trade in Food. On the other hand, the point was made that whilst the GATT Code was concerned with non-tariff obstacles in general to international trade, the Draft Code of Ethics was concerned principally with the matter of international cooperation in controlling the movement of hazardous foods and with the protection of consumers - especially in countries where national food control facilities were less than adequate - against health risks in food and against commercial fraud.
114. A further comment made in connection with the work of the Codex Committee on General Principles was that the Procedure for the Elaboration of Codex Standards might be reviewed, with a view to considering whether it might not be better to ascertain from Governments whether a draft standard was generally acceptable before finalizing it. Two delegations thought that the Codex Committee on General Principles should re-examine the acceptance provisions, more especially acceptance provisions in relation to pesticide residues. Another delegation suggested that consideration be given to the use of a voting system by correspondence in the development of Codex standards.
115. Concerning the work of the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues, the opinion was expressed that the Committee should confine its activities to the development of international maximum limits for pesticide residues and not extend them to deal with environmental contaminants, such as PCB's, dioxins, etc.
116. As regards the Codex Commodity Committees, most delegations expressed themselves as being in broad agreement with what was said about these Committees in document ALINORM 78/8. In the case of some of the Committees, the recommendation in document ALINORM 78/8 was that developing countries might wish to consider how better the Committees concerned could respond to their needs. Examples of such Committees were the Codex Committees on Fats and Oils, Fish and Fishery Products, Processed Fruits and Vegetables, and also the Joint UNECE/Codex Alimentarius Group of Experts on Standardization of Fruit Juices. It had also been suggested in ALINORM 78/8 that, for some Codex Committees which appeared to have completed their current assignments, the Commission might wish to consider adjourning them sine die; for other Codex Committees, it had been suggested in the document that the Commission might wish to consider fixing a time (number of further sessions) by which their assignments could reasonably be expected to be completed.
117. Some delegations, such as the delegations of Kenya and Canada, were in favour of winding up certain Committees, in order to reduce the number of Committees, to enable new work to be started, and to discontinue existing permanent hosting arrangements with a number of countries. This would enable others to offer to host new Committees or older Committees if it were necessary to reactivate them. Other delegations, however, considered that adjournment sine die would be more appropriate, in order to provide for the possibility of revising standards as and when necessary. The Commission agreed to consider the Secretariat's proposals regarding the Committees concerned on a Committee by Committee basis, under the relevant items of the agenda. One delegation thought that whilst the Commission might form a view about the continuance of certain Committees, it should not take a definitive decision at this stage, but rather seek the views of the affected Committees themselves and then consider these views. The delegation in question thought that the Milk Committee might possibly be an exception as it appeared to have completed its work. One delegation thought that the Milk Committee should be asked for its views before any decision was taken concerning its future activities.
118. A number of delegations made particular reference to the Milk and Milk Products Committee, noting that it was funded entirely from the budget of the Programme. These delegations were of the opinion that this Committee, which had started its work in 1958 and had now developed standards for almost all milk products of significance, should be wound up and that the funds so released be used for other Codex activities. Another delegation expressed doubt as to the need for many of the standards being elaborated by the Joint UNECE/Codex Alimentarius Groups of Experts on Standardization of Fruit Juices and Quick Frozen Foods. In this connection the delegation questioned the appropriateness of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe playing an important role in setting standards which are of importance on a world-wide basis.
119. Reference was made to what were submitted to be gaps in the programme of work of the Commission. In this connection mention was made of the need for international standards for cereal products, being the staple food of the vast proportion of the world's population (the Secretariat paper had also suggested that there was a need for the establishment of a Codex Committee to deal with these products). Other products mentioned were coffee and tea and tropical fruits. It was noted that the question of the establishment of a Codex Committee on Coffee and Coffee Products was a separate item of the agenda. One delegation stated that, in its view, there was no need, at this stage for international standards for coffee and coffee products. Another delegation expressed the view that, at present, no Committee should be established for coffee and coffee products. The same delegation expressed some reservations concerning the question of the establishment of international standards for vegetable proteins, which was also a separate item on the agenda.
120. A few delegations referred to the budget of the Food Standards Programme and pointed out that it was less than 1% of the total FAO budget. They thought that this was unsatisfactory and expressed the view that the Programme should have a higher priority in WHO and FAO. They considered that if FAO and WHO were to devote at least 1% or even 1/2% more of their total budgets to the Programme, there would then be developing countries willing to provide host facilities for Codex Committee sessions.
121. On the question of how to achieve increased participation by developing countries in the work of the Commission, a suggestion had been put forward in ALINORM 78/8 that a Trust Fund be established for this purpose. There had been opposition to this proposal in the Executive Committee at its 24th session and a number of delegations expressed themselves as being against this proposal during the course of the Commission's deliberations on this matter. No delegation spoke in favour of the proposal.
122. In ALINORM 78/8, the Secretariat had proposed revised functions or terms of reference for the Codex Coordinating Committees for Africa, Asia and Latin America. Some delegations stated that, in principle, the functions of all Coordinating Committees should be similar and that, therefore, the proposed revised functions should be equally applicable to the Coordinating Committee for Europe. In this connection, one delegation expressed the view that there could be different approaches in different regions. The Commission, whilst it found the proposed revised terms of reference generally acceptable, agreed that they should be referred to each of the four Coordinating Committees for consideration, which should then report to the Commission on this matter at its next session.
123. Referring to the proposed revised functions set forth in paragraph 56 of ALINORM 78/8, one delegation stated that food control was outside the scope of the Programme. It was pointed out, however, that the relevant functions related to the provision of a forum for discussing regional problems relating to food control, and not to the actual provision of technical assistance or the operation of projects in this area.
124. A suggestion was made that one of the functions of the Coordinating Committees might be the consideration of acceptances of Codex standards in the region concerned.
125. The importance of facilitating greater participation by developing countries was stressed by several delegations. A few delegations thought that if funds could be found to provide for more Codex sessions in developing countries this would make for improved participation. Other delegations, however, expressed doubts about this. Referring, on the one hand, to a general trend, evident in the discussions, towards a certain shift in direction to meet the needs and concerns of the developing countries, and, on the other hand, to an expected renewed interest by developing countries in making greater use of the Codex system for their own benefit, one delegation stressed that with millions of producers and consumers throughout the world the great importance of international food standards was self-evident.
126. The suggestion was made that it would be very useful if the Secretariat were to issue a list of all Codex standards and codes of practice adopted and in the course of being developed.1
127. Concerning the work of the Regional Coordinating Committees, one delegation mentioned that regional standards could have international effects. Another delegation expressed the need for caution in relation to the question of developing regional standards, in order to avoid proliferation of such standards. The same delegation thought that participation in the Regional Committees should be confined to the countries of the region. It was supported by another delegation on this point. On the other hand, the point was made that this could be undesirable, more especially if the Coordinating Committee was discussing standards for products of interest to countries outside the region.
128. One delegation indicated that whilst it favoured some changes to meet the needs of developing countries, it cautioned against any unduly radical and hurried changed. It emphasized that only such changes as could reasonably be expected to bring about benefits should be made.
129. The Commission noted that the Coordinating Committee for Asia had drawn attention to the usefulness of international food standards as a means of promoting exports of food products, i.e. the idea of elaborating international standards for products having international market potential. It had been suggested, therefore, in ALINORM 78/8 (para. 72) that this notion should be included in the “Criteria for the Establishment of Work Priorities and for the Establishment of Subsidiary Bodies of the Codex Alimentarius Commission”, contained in the Procedural Manual of the Commission. The Commission concurred in this suggestion and agreed that a new item should be included under sub-paragraph 4 A of the criteria applicable to commodities, as follows: “International or regional market potential”.
130. Concerning the section of ALINORM 78/8 dealing with the work of the Codex Committee on Food Additives, the observer from the Council of Europe drew attention to the work of his organization in the field of flavouring substances and packaging materials. This work had been carried out in close cooperation with the European Economic Community. The observer from the Council of Europe indicated the willingness of his organization to place this work at the disposal of the Members of the Commission. The Commission expressed its appreciation of this offer and noted that the activities of the Council of Europe and other international organizations would be considered under a later item of the agenda.
131. One delegation drew attention to the close links between the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Codex. The delegation referred to the work of ISO/TC 34 and stressed the desirability of further strengthening cooperation between Codex and ISO/TC 34.
132. In connection with a suggestion that it would be a good thing to hold more of the Codex sessions in Rome or Geneva, one delegation thought that this might not be desirable from the point of view of the need to ensure attendance by technical personnel.
1 Note by the Secretariat: The Secretariat has already issued two such lists, the most recent being in November 1977. An up-to-date list will be issued after the Commission's current session.
133. The following conclusions were agreed to:
In the light of the contents of document ALINORM 78/8 and the discussion thereon, the Commission notes that its activities up to now as well as those of its subsidiary bodies have been carried out in conformity with its Statutes; in accordance with an order of priorities fixed at an earlier time; and with varying degrees of benefit to Member Countries.
The Commission is conscious of the problems which exist in the developing countries in relation to the work on the development of international food standards, and declares its readiness to take into consideration, within the framework of its Statutes, the requests made by those countries as regards the future activities of the Commission.
The Commission considers that the activities of its General Subject Committees are essential for its future work. The Commission recognizes that the specific conditions in developing countries must be taken into account, whilst at the same time, not neglecting the protection of consumers everywhere against possible health risks in food.
Concerning the draft Code of Ethics for the International Trade in Food which was, from the start, intended to be of benefit to those developing countries which lacked adequate food control infrastructure and which had been elaborated in response to a Resolution of the UN Conference on Human Environment (Stockholm, June 1972), the Commission considered that work on the development of the draft Code of Ethics should not be suspended until such time as the GATT Code for the Prevention of Technical Barriers to Trade had been completed, since the completion of work on the GATT Code might take longer than was planned. The Commission agreed, therefore, that work on the draft Code of Ethics should be continued and that the draft Code should be considered at the next session of the Codex Committee on General Principles, as had been originally intended. In this connection, several delegations thought that it would be desirable for the Codex Committee on General Principles to have before it, if completed and available, the GATT Code of Conduct for Preventing Technical Barriers to Trade.
As regards those Codex Commodity Committees or Joint UNECE/Codex Groups of Experts which seemed to be near to completing their work assignments, the Commission considered that adjournement sine die was preferable to disbanding them, because of the possible need for revision of standards, in order to take account of technological developments. The Commission took note of the observations of the various delegations which spoke on the subject of the future work of Commodity Committees and decided that it would consider the matter of adjournment sine die, limiting the number of future sessions, etc., on a Committee by Committee basis, under the appropriate agenda item for each Committee.
Concerning the wishes of a number of delegations from developing countries regarding, in particular, the need for the provision of training facilities in food control and related areas and strengthening of laboratory facilities, the Commission, whilst noting that these matters were outside the scope of its activities, nevertheless, was of the opinion that this was a matter which needed support and should be brought to the attention of the Directors-General of FAO and WHO.
On the subject of greater participation by developing countries in the work of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies, and specifically with reference to the suggested setting up of a Trust Fund for this purpose, the Commission concluded, in the light of the objections to this proposal which had been raised both at the Commission's session and in the Executive Committee to this form of financing, that there would be no point in pursuing the idea of a Trust Fund. On the other hand, several delegations stressed the need for increased funding for the Programme from FAO and WHO in order to assist developing countries to host Codex Committees.
As regards the proposed revised terms of reference for the Coordinating Committees for Africa, Asia and Latin America, as contained in paragraph 56 of ALINORM 78/8, the Commission found them generally acceptable, but agreed that they should be transmitted to all four Coordinating Committees for examination and reporting back to the next session of the Commission.
The Commission agreed to adopt the amendment to the justification criteria, as proposed in paragraph 72 of ALINORM 78/8, i.e. the inclusion of another criterion: “International or Regional Market Potential”.
Concerning the question of the establishment of a Codex Committee on Coffee and Coffee Products, it was noted that this matter would be considered later on, under a separate item of the agenda.
Concerning matters other than those mentioned above, the Commission did not come to any conclusion at this stage.
COORDINATING COMMITTEE FOR AFRICA
134. The Commission had before it the Report of the Third Session of the Coordinating Committee for Africa held in Accra in September 1977 (ALINORM 78/28). The Report was introduced by the Rapporteur, Dr. Laurence Twum-Danso, who had replaced the Coordinator, Dr. Robert Oteng, as Chairman of the Third Session.
135. The Rapporteur referred to the concern expressed by delegates at the session that only 10 countries out of the 32 member countries of the region had sent representatives to the Session. This concern had resulted in the Committee drawing up a Resolution addressed to Governments of the Region (ALINORM 78/28, Appendix V) recommending them: “to give serious consideration to invitations to attend such meetings (i.e. where standards for regional products of interest to their economies are elaborated) and to study carefully the agenda documents and, particularly, to recommend to the governments of the developing nations that they ensure that their representatives do attend as many such meetings as is possible and in appointing such representatives, to ensure as far as possible that there is continuity of attendance”. The Commission strongly supported the recommendations made in the Resolution.
136. The attention of the Commission was also drawn to a Resolution which had been presented by the Nigerian delegation to the Coordinating Committee Session relating to the establishment of institutes on a regional or sub-regional basis for training personnel in food control (ALINORM 78/ 28, Appendix VI). The Commission took note of this Resolution which, it thought, was well founded.
137. The Commission noted that several Governments of the Region had indicated their positions with regard to the application of the Model Food Law in their countries; in some cases the national legislation was in close agreement with the Model Food Law and in others where the development of food legislation was at an early stage, the provisions of the Model Food Law had been adopted in principle.
138. The Coordinating Committee had recognized that an adequate food control infrastructure was indispensable to the proper application of food standards and had begun to compile, as a preliminary to the planning of intra-regional cooperation, an Inventory of Food Control Facilities and Available Staff in the African Region, which would be kept up-to-date.
139. The Commission's attention was directed to the discussion which had taken place at its previous session (ALINORM 76/44, paras 425–426), in which the Commission had recommended that Regional Coordinating Committees interested in certain products should gather background information, determine priorities and submit their proposals for standards together with full documentation on the products to the Commission for consideration.
140. In the case of the African Region, the Coordinating Committee had studied two documents prepared by consultants. One of them consisted of a survey of production, consumption, trade and legislation of African countries with regard to tubers, other starchy roots and their products, indigenous cereals and their products and certain grain legumes and their products; the other one contained a more general review of products for suggested standardization. As a result, a list of commodities and products had been recommended for standardization and the responsibility for coordinating the preparation of draft standards or for further studies had been allocated to certain countries of the Region. The products concerned were:
141. The Rapporteur informed the Commission that Ghana had submitted to the Coordinating Committee a Proposed Draft Standard for Maize (Corn) for Human Consumption which was now at Step 3 of the Procedure for the Elaboration of Regional Standards (see ALINORM 78/28, Appendix IV).
142. The delegation of the USA pointed out that, taking into account what the Commission had requested in paras 425–426 of the Report of the 11th Session as well as Step 1 of the Procedure for the Elaboration of Regional Codex Standards, a request that a Codex Regional Standard for Maize (Corn) be elaborated, should have been presented to the Commission before going ahead and sending the draft standard out to Governments for comments at Step 3. The delegation stressed that rules and procedures must be followed so that the delegations will be in the best position to respond on behalf of their countries and after clearance with proper authority (before the sessions begin).
143. The delegation of the USA, referring to its position as major exporter of this product, stated that the substantive point which needed to be taken into consideration was that if it was decided that a standard for maize (corn) was necessary or desirable, then such a standard should be a world-wide standard and not a regional one, because the product was traded on a world-wide basis. A further point was that whilst countries outside the region could participate as observers, they could not take part in any vote, should there be one, relating to the amendment or adoption of a regional standard. A number of delegations supported the viewpoint of the delegation of the USA, as did also the observer from the EEC.
144. Other delegations held the view that because of the importance of trade in maize throughout the region of Africa and because of the nutritional importance of maize in the African diet, the elaboration of an African Regional standard was a matter of urgency. It was also pointed out that although large quantities of maize moved in international trade, a great proportion of this was used for feed purposes, whereas in the Region of Africa maize grain was almost entirely a food product. In addition much of the maize consumed was imported - little or no maize was produced for export outside the region.
145. The Commission noted that whilst, procedurally, the Coordinating Committee should have submitted its request for the elaboration of an African Regional Standard to the Commission before proceeding with its elaboration, the position under the Rules of Procedure of the Commission was that it was possible for a majority of countries of a region to embark on a regional standard even though a large majority of the Commission might be in favour of a world-wide standard (Rule VI. 3). Reference was made to a proposal made some years ago to amend Rule VI.3 in such a way as to enable a decision on the question of whether or not a particular regional standard should be elaborated in the first instance to rest with the Commission. The proposal had failed to obtain the required two-thirds majority (Report of the Sixth Session of the Commission, 1969, ALINORM 69/67, paras 30–35).
146. The Commission noted that countries outside the region could send in their comments at Steps 3 and 6 of the Procedure and could make their views known also at Steps 5 and 8. In addition, at Step 12 of the Procedure, the regional standard could be published as a world-wide standard, if the acceptances received so warranted.
147. Recognizing that maize was of particular significance to the African region, the Commission agreed that the elaboration of an African Regional Standard for Maize (Corn) should proceed (see also paras 160–161, 496, 504–505).
Appointment of Coordinator for Africa
148. The Commission noted that two consecutive terms of office as Coordinator would be completed by Dr. Robert Oteng of Ghana at the end of the present session. Under the Rules of Procedure of the Commission he was, therefore, ineligible for re-appointment as Coordinator.
149. In accordance with Rule II.4(b) of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission and on the unanimous proposal of the Third Session of the Coordinating Committee for Africa, the Commission appointed Dr. T. N'Doye (Senegal) as Coordinator for Africa, to serve from the end of the Twelfth Session to the end of the Thirteenth Session of the Commission.
150. The Commission expressed its appreciation to the Government of Ghana for having hosted the Second and Third Sessions of the Coordinating Committee for Africa and for their generous hospitality. The Commission also expressed thanks to the Government of Senegal for having offered to host the Fourth Session of the Coordinating Committee in Dakar.
COORDINATING COMMITTEE FOR ASIA
151. The Commission had before it the Report of the First Session of the Coordinating Committee for Asia, held in New Delhi in January 1978, as contained in ALINORM 78/15. In the absence of the Coordinator for Asia the Report was introduced by Dr. D.S. Chadha (India), who highlighted specific parts of the deliberations of the Coordinating Committee.
152. The Committee had discussed in detail the task of the Coordinator. The Committee agreed that the role of the Coordinator should be operational but was informed that this could not be so on account of financial constraints. However, the Committee agreed that the role of the Coordinator should be strengthened by the establishment of closer links with the Codex Secretariat and with the Regional Offices of FAO and WHO in matters affecting the Region. The Secretariat confirmed that initial steps in this direction had been taken.
153. The Committee noted the poor attendance of delegations from member countries in the Region. It felt that one way of ensuring more active participation of the developing countries in the work of Codex in the region could be for the Commodity Committee meetings to be held in rotation in different countries in various Regions.
154. The Committee had agreed that the development of food control infrastructure in the region should have the highest priority. In the opinion of the Committee a great deal could be achieved through increased intra-regional cooperation. It therefore held the view that this objective should be given a concrete and practical form by adopting a mutual plan of action. It had strongly recommended that FAO should organize a workshop/seminar in the region to discuss various aspects of food control infrastructure. The workshop/seminar would make recommendations for action at the national or regional level, inter alia, in the following areas: (i) training of food inspectors and analysts; (ii) development of laboratories; and (iii) transfer of technology (ALINORM 78/15, para. 92).
155. The Committee had expressed the view that the workshop/seminar would also contribute to more active participation by countries of the region in the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and its subsidiary bodies. The Commission noted that whilst the holding of such a workshop fell outside its terms of reference, it formed an integral element of the overall effort to strengthen food control for better implementation of Codex standards and other recommendations. The Commission therefore strongly supported the proposal for the holding of a workshop/ seminar and requested FAO and WHO to investigate the possibility of obtaining funds for this purpose from within the UN or from bilateral donor agencies.
156. In the further discussion of the Report, one delegation expressed the view that, under the present circumstances, Codex standards - which could contain provisions as yet unattainable by the emerging food processing industries in some countries - might, at times, create some problems for products traded on a bilateral or intra-regional basis. The delegation was of the opinion that countries should take into account possible economic repercussions when considering acceptance of Codex standards. They should bear in mind that for trade on a restricted basis of certain processed foods, compliance with all the provisions of Codex standards could not always be the case, and taking local circumstances into account, indeed was not always necessary.
157. The representative of ASMO confirmed the interest of his Organization in the work of the Committee and its desire to contribute actively to the efforts to improve the food control infrastructure of the region. The delegation of Japan informed the Commission that, in order further to promote the development of the food control infrastructure in the region, the possibility of making available Japanese associate experts for technical assistance would be seriously studied. The Secretariat further informed the Commission of several ongoing and planned activities in the field of food control in the region by various UN Organizations - jointly or individually. Particular efforts were made to carry out training projects locally, i.e. in the country or (sub)-region concerned using national institutions. Reference in this case was invited to the ongoing Joint FAO/UNEP Training Course for the Control of Environmental Contaminants in Food at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, India, and the proposed FAO/WHO/ASMO Training Course in Food Inspection, in the Arabic language, to be organized at the University of Alexandria, Egypt, in early 1979.
158. With regard to the possible development of standards for certain processed fruit products and fruit juices important to the region, it was noted that the delegations of India and Malaysia had undertaken to provide the relevant Codex Commodity Committees with information on the products and where possible also with draft standards.
159. The Commission further noted the views expressed by the Coordinating Committee for Asia on a number of other issues which had been or would be considered under other items of the agenda of the present session.
Consideration of Development of a Standard for Wheat Flour
160. The Commission noted that the Coordinating Committee for Asia had identified wheat flour as a commodity for which a worldwide standard should be developed (ALINORM 78/15, para. 99 (ix)). A lengthy discussion ensued which also took into consideration the earlier deliberations of the Commission on the development of an African regional standard for maize. A large number of delegations, not including Japan, expressed their views on the desirability of elaborating a standard for wheat flour. Statements were further made concerning the best way to deal with the work on the elaboration of standards for such commodities. Support was given to a proposal that standards for cereals and cereal products should be worked out on a world-wide basis and in a single Committee.
161. In conclusion, and in view of the strong interest expressed in the Commission in favour of the establishment of world-wide standards for flour and other cereal products, the delegation of the USA made a tentative offer, on behalf of the Government of the USA, and subject to confirmation, to host a Codex Committee on Cereals and Cereal Products, if the Commission considered that such a Committee should be established. The Commission accepted with satisfaction the tentative offer of the USA to host such a new Codex Committee (see also paras. 496 and 504–505).
Appointment of Coordinator for Asia
162. The Commission noted that Dr. K.O. Leong (Malaysia), Coordinator for Asia, had informed the Coordinating Committee for Asia that, because of personal commitments, he would not be in a position to offer himself for appointment for a second term.
163. In accordance with Rule II.4(b) of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission and on the unanimous proposal of the First Session of the Coordinating Committee for Asia, the Commission appointed Dr. Arsenio M. Regala (Philippines) as Coordinator for Asia, to serve from the end of the Twelfth Session to the end of the Thirteenth Session of the Commission.
164. The Commission expressed its appreciation to the Government of India for having hosted the First Session of the Coordinating Committee for Asia and for their generous hospitality. The Commission also expressed thanks to the Government of the Philippines for having offered to host the Second Session of the Coordinating Committee for Asia in Manila.
COORDINATING COMMITTEE FOR LATIN AMERICA
165. The Commission noted that the First Session of the Coordinating Committee for Latin America had been held immediately prior to the Eleventh Session of the Commission and that the Committee had not met since that time, because a Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Regional Conference for Latin America was expected to be held before the Second Session of the Coordinating Committee.
Appointment of Coordinator for Latin America
166. In accordance with Rule II.4(b) of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission, the Commission appointed Dr. E. Méndez (Mexico) as Coordinator for Latin America, to serve, for a second term, from the end of the Twelfth Session to the end of the Thirteenth Session of the Commission.
Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Regional Conference for Latin America
167. The Commission expressed its thanks and appreciation to the Government of Mexico for having kindly agreed to provide host facilities in Mexico City in September 1978 for the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Regional Conference for Latin America.
COORDINATING COMMITTEE FOR EUROPE
168. The Commission had before it the Report of the above Committee (ALINORM 78/19) and Government comments on the Draft European Regional Standard for Natural Mineral Waters, contained in ALINORM 78/36, Part 9 and Add. I and Conference Room Document LIM. 8. The Coordinator for Europe, Prof. H. Woidich (Austria), gave an account of the work accomplished by the Coordinating Committee since the last session of the Commission.
Draft European Regional Standard for Natural Mineral Waters at Step 8
169. The Commission noted that the above Draft Standard represented the best compromise which the Coordinating Committee could achieve. It also noted that the Draft Standard no longer contained provisions which were not acceptable to WHO and to a number of Member Countries. The Coordinator for Europe drew the Commission's attention to some minor errors in the Draft Standard and also indicated where further editorial improvements could be made.
170. The delegations of Yugoslavia, Portugal, Spain and the representative of GESEM were of the opinion that the definition of natural mineral waters as contained in the present text was not sufficiently precise to distinguish natural mineral waters from other types of water. Furthermore, sections 2.1 and 7.1.1(b) were in contradiction with each other. These delegations proposed that the latter subsection should be deleted. They were further of the opinion that the optional designation "spring water" was not appropriate to describe natural mineral waters. The delegation of the United Kingdom expressed the view that the term "spring water" did describe a natural mineral water, i.e. a product different from ordinary drinking water.
171. The delegation of Denmark, speaking on behalf of the EEC, read the following declaration by the Presidency of the Council on behalf of Member States of the European Economic Community:
“The Member States of the Community are not opposed to the passage of the standard to Step 9, but would point out to the Codex Commission that if the Standard were subsequently to be accepted, they would reserve the right to make specified deviations, possibly with the aim of amending the Standard. Such deviations or amendments will be especially concerned with transport of natural mineral water and claims concerning properties favourable to health, having regard to progress of work on this subject in the Community and in accordance with the final outcome of such work”.
172. The delegations of Denmark and Italy withdrew their proposed amendments to the Draft Standard in the light of the above declaration. The delegation of the United Kingdom, for the same reason, withdrew its proposed amendment concerning bulk transport of natural mineral waters.
173. As regards Annex I dealing with criteria for microbiological analyses at source, the Commission was informed that the English version of Annex I to the Draft Standard for Natural Mineral Waters contained some errors as it had erroneously been based on an earlier unrevised version of the EEC text but that the French and Spanish versions were correct. The Coordinator for Europe suggested that an amended version of Annex I, proposed by Switzerland in document ALINORM 78/36, Part 9, be considered for the purpose of discussion. He further suggested that the following editorial changes should be made to the Swiss text to bring it completely in line with the provisions of Section V - Hygiene. The text proposed for consideration by the Commission and the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene was as follows:
"Criteria for microbiological analyses
Demonstration of the absence of parasites and of pathogenic microorganisms
Determination of colony count indicative of faecal contamination
absence of Escherichia coli and other coliforms in a 250-ml sample examined at 44.5°C and 37°C;
absence of faecal streptococci in a 250-ml sample examined;
absence of sporulated sulphite-reducing anaerobes in a 50-ml sample examined;
absence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a 250-ml sample examined.
Determination of colony count per ml of water in agar or agar-gelatine medium
at 20°C - 22°C in 72 hours
at 37°C in 24 hours
174. The delegation of the United Kingdom pointed out that Annex I, even with the improvements as set out above, added little to what was already included in sections 5.2.1 and 5.2.2 of the Standard. There was a need to specify in greater detail the actual analytical procedures to be followed in determining the microbiological acceptability of the natural mineral water in the light of the section on hygiene. The Commission noted that that section was still pending endorsement by the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene where the questions raised by delegations together with the text proposed by Switzerland, as amended, could be discussed.
175. The Commission noted that the section on labelling also required endorsement by the Codex Committee on Food Labelling and that the section on analysis and sampling still required elaboration. The Coordinator for Europe informed the Commission that work was in progress to select appropriate methods of analysis for inclusion in the standard. An opinion was expressed that methods were required particularly for the sections dealing with contaminants and with the various components which were subject to maximum limits.
Status of the Draft European Regional Standard for Natural Mineral Waters
176. The Commission decided to adopt, as a Recommended European Regional Standard, the Draft European Regional Standard for Natural Mineral Waters at Step 8 of the Procedure for the Elaboration of Regional Codex Standards. The Coordinator for Europe expressed the hope that countries not belonging to the European Region would also accept the above standard and that, as a result, the European Regional Standard would be published in the Codex Alimentarius as a worldwide standard, in conformity with Step 12 of the above Procedure. It was understood that the various sections of the standard requiring endorsement or elaboration would be considered by the appropriate Codex Committees and that the standard would not be published until such sections had been considered. Should issues arise which required consideration by the Commission, they would be referred to the 13th Session of the Commission by the Secretariat.
Matters arising from the Report of the Coordinating Committee for Europe
177. The Coordinator for Europe informed the Commission that out of the 16 countries which had replied, 11 had given Full Acceptance to the Regional Standard for Honey and that only one country had not been able to accept the standard. However, that country had undertaken to permit the free distribution of products conforming to the Codex Standard. He also informed the Commission that the Coordinating Committee for Europe had decided to await the reaction of Governments as regards the acceptance of the Recommended Codex Standard for Canned Fruit Cocktail before considering the possible establishment of a European Regional Standard for this product.
178. The Commission noted that the Hungarian delegation to the Coordinating Committee for Europe would distribute a second simplified questionnaire requesting information on food legislation and food inspection systems in European countries. The results of this survey would be brought to the attention of the Coordinating Committee for Europe.
179. The Commission further noted that the Coordinating Committee for Europe had concluded that a European Regional Standard should be elaborated for fermentation vinegar (especially wine vinegar) (see paras 56–65, ALINORM 78/19). It was agreed that the Coordinating Committee for Europe should commence work in this field.
180. As regards boneless meat, the Commission recalled its previous decision (see para. 205, ALINORM 76/44) that no work needed to be done on this commodity but that the Coordinating Committee for Europe could rediscuss this question in order to see whether or not there was still interest in developing a standard for boneless meat and if so, what course of action might be followed. It was noted that the Coordinating Committee, at its 10th Session, had discussed this question but had not reached a conclusion on the need or otherwise to elaborate a standard for boneless meat (see paras 56–65, ALINORM 78/19).
181. The Commission noted that the Coordinating Committee for Europe had concluded that there seemed to be a possibility of drawing up a standard for size grading of canned green peas (see paras 74–75, ALINORM 78/19) and that the Federal Republic of Germany had submitted a draft proposal for the size grading of this commodity to the Secretariat. The Commission agreed that the Coordinating Committee for Europe should consider this question.
182. The Commission was informed that the Coordinating Committee for Europe had deferred consideration of the possible elaboration of food standards for salt, pending the elaboration of specifications for food grade sodium chloride by the Codex Committee on Food Additives.
Appointment of Coordinator for Europe
183. On the unanimous proposal of the Coordinating Committee for Europe and in accordance with Rule II.4(b), the Commission reappointed Prof. H. Woidich (Austria) as Coordinator for Europe to serve from the end of the 12th to the end of the 15th session of the Commission.