31) The 23rd Session of the Commission approved the revision of the current Regional Standard for Mayonnaise (CODEX STAN 168-1989) as new work and as a regional standard, assigning this task to the Coordinating Committee for Europe. The Proposed Draft Revised Standard was circulated in June 2000 for comments at Step 3 with the relevant updates on provisions for hygiene, additives, contaminants and methods of analysis.
32) Before the Committee started to examine the Proposed Draft in detail, it was questioned whether there was a real necessity for the Region to retain a Revised Regional Standard for Mayonnaise. The Chairman recalled that only two Codex Regional Commodity Standards still existed in the Codex Alimentarius (Vinegar and Mayonnaise in Europe) and these standards were at least recognized by the European Fair Trade Association as international references.
33) In reply to a question, the Codex Secretariat recalled that the Secretariat of the SPS Committee had been requested by the Commission to provide explanations on the applicability of regional standards. The reply indicated that Regional standards are not included in the definition of international standards used in the Agreement, but may be applied within a given Region, such as Europe.
34) The Chairman recalled that the two main criteria for Mayonnaise were the fat and egg-yolk contents and that the comments received included proposals for specific levels. The Observer of FIC Europe recalled that an industry Code on Mayonnaise and other emulsified sauces existed since 1972. The qualitative provisions for Mayonnaise included a high content of fat (vegetable oil origin) and an appropriate level of egg-yolk. The Observer informed the Committee that 8 countries had adopted regulatory standards and 8 other European countries had implemented an industry standard; a Code of Good Practice had been developed within the industry and received support from the EC Commission. The Observer also outlined the high variability of fat content in mayonnaise traded in Europe, although the usual fat content ranged from 70% to 80% and the egg-yolk content was 5%.
35) The Delegation of Belgium drew the attention of the Committee to the fact that specific labelling should clearly distinguish between two products when significant differences exist as regards the composition of mayonnaise. The European Community legislation recommends either that an explanatory adjective should be used when qualifying the product on the label or that another name should be used to describe the product (Directive EC/01/13 on Prepackaged Food Products, Article 5). The Observer from the European Community provided additional information to the effect that no specific regulations on mayonnaise were currently in force in the European Union. The Delegation of Belgium also pointed out that a Codex Commodity Standard on Mayonnaise might be useful to provide countries of the Codex European Region with provisions regarding consumers health protection (additives, contaminants) and consumer information (labelling on mainly fat and egg-yolk contents). The Delegation therefore supported the revision of the Codex standard by the Regional Committee to provide a useful reference in the Region. Some delegations supported this position, stressing the interest of a regional standard to ensure fair trade practices, which is one of the Codex objectives.
36) Many delegations highlighted the large disparity in the products sold as mayonnaise on the European market both in terms of composition and labelling. One delegation even abolished its own national standard on mayonnaise since appropriate labelling provisions would ensure adequate information for consumers. Some other delegations stressed the importance of the current trend in the market for emulsified sauces with a lower fat content, in view of new dietary habits, and the inconsistency of the current high content of fat in mayonnaise with consumer demand. The Committee noted that the levels proposed for the fat and egg-yolk contents differed significantly.
37) The Delegation of the United Kingdom recalled that it had not been possible to convert the Codex Regional Standard into a world-wide standard due to lack of consensus on the essential characteristics of the product, and expressed the view that the standardization of mayonnaise should be discontinued at the regional level. Moreover, maintaining a Regional Codex Standard might lead to undesirable effects on European market and on worldwide exports of Mayonnaise produced in Europe, with the risk that different Regions in the world develop different standards with different requirements; that would detract from the overall Codex objective of international harmonization. Further consideration should therefore be given to the status of and need for regional standards in Codex. This position was supported by many delegations, some of which expressed their will to participate in the revision of the standard should the Committee decide to proceed with it.
38) In the light of these discussions it appeared that no consensus could be reached on the need for a Regional Standard for Mayonnaise. The Committee agreed to ask the Commission for further advice on the need to proceed with the revision of the Regional Standard for Mayonnaise.
39) The Committee also agreed to seek the advice of the Commission on the need to retain regional commodity standards in relation to the overall objective of international harmonization and to consider how they might affect trade in other regions.
Status of the Proposed Draft Revised Standard for Mayonnaise
40) The Committee agreed to return the Proposed Draft Standard for Mayonnaise to Step 3, pending further advice from the Commission.