From the very beginning, the Codex Alimentarius has been a science-based activity. Experts and specialists in a wide range of disciplines have contributed to every aspect of the code to ensure that its standards withstand the most rigorous scientific scrutiny. It is fair to say that the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, together with that of FAO and WHO in their supportive roles, has provided a focal point for food-related scientific research and investigation, and the Commission itself has become an important international medium for the exchange of scientific information about food.
The Codex Alimentarius has stimulated activity in the fields of food chemistry, food technology, food microbiology, mycology, and pesticide and veterinary drug residues. Much work is carried out in the form of collaborative studies between individual scientists, laboratories, institutes and universities and joint FAO/WHO expert committees and consultations.
RECENT EXPERT MEETINGS AND CONSULTATIONS
The membership of expert consultations is of critical importance. The credibility and acceptability of any conclusions and recommendations depend to a very large degree on the objectiveness, scientific skill and overall competence of the members who formulate them. For this reason, great care is taken in the selection of experts invited to participate. Those selected must be pre-eminent in their speciality, have the highest respect of their scientific peers, and be impartial and indisputably objective in their judgement. They are appointed in their own personal right - not as government representatives or as spokespeople for organizations - and their input is theirs alone. Some experts, especially those on continuing committees, remain members for long periods and thereby develop an invaluable institutional memory.
A large amount of scientifically based food data has been generated by expert meetings, convened and serviced jointly by FAO and WHO.
Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR)
- JMPR was established in 1963 following a decision by FAO Conference that the
Codex Alimentarius Commission should recommend maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticide and environmental contaminants in specific food products to ensure the safety of foods containing residues. It was also decided that JMPR should recommend methods of sampling and analysis.
- JMPR members are eminent independent scientists who are expert in aspects of pesticides, environmental chemicals and their residues and who are appointed in their own right and not as government representatives.
- JMPR is independent of the Commission.
- FAO appointees draft MRLs for substances under evaluation, based on field trials that are conducted worldwide. WHO appointees conduct toxicological evaluations of the pesticides.
- Reports of evaluations are published.
- There is close cooperation between JMPR and the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR). CCPR identifies those substances requiring priority evaluation. After JMPR evaluation, CCPR discusses the recommended MRLs and, if they are acceptable, forwards them to the Commission for adoption as Codex MRLs.
Two such groups, the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues and the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, have for many years produced internationally acclaimed data which are widely used by governments, industry and research centres. Their input into the work of the Codex Commission is of fundamental importance and the publications resulting from their activities are acclaimed international references. The evaluations performed by JECFA, like those performed by JMPR, are based on the best scientific information available, comprising inputs from many authoritative sources.
Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)
- JECFA was established in 1955 to consider chemical, toxicological and other aspects of contaminants and residues of veterinary drugs in foods for human consumption.
- JECFA members are independent scientists who are expert in aspects of additives, contaminants and veterinary drug residues and who are appointed in their own right and not as government representatives.
- JECFA is independent of the Commission. It provides the Commission and other Codex bodies with expert advice relating to food additives, contaminants and residues of veterinary drugs.
- The Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (CCFAC) and the Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods (CCVDF) identify food additives, contaminants and veterinary drug residues that should receive priority evaluation and refer them to JECFA for assessment before incorporating them into Codex standards.
- Reports of toxicological evaluations are published.
- JECFA also provides scientific advice directly to FAO and WHO member countries.